OAS mission in Haiti says elections mark ‘step forward’Tuesday, August 11, 2015
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (CMC) – The head of the Organization of American States (OAS) Observer Electoral Mission (EOM) to Haiti, has described Sunday’s first round of legislative elections in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country as “a step forward”.
“The work of the mission does not end here,” said Enrique Castillo, the former foreign affairs minister of Costa Rica, who welcomed the “determination of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to continue with the next steps in the electoral process”.
Castillo said Sunday’s election “was a step forward in strengthening Haitian democracy” and the OAS said it would deploy another mission to the first round of voting in the presidential elections in October.
The EOM congratulated Haiti country on the holding of the elections that included the participation of the vast majority of political forces in the country.
“The mission recommended holding a civic education campaign to increase citizen participation in the elections,” the OAS said.
Elena Vaenciano, a representative of the Electoral Observation Mission from the European Union, told reporters while there were “few incidents of violence…our impression our information for now, tell us that the elections were held almost normally”
“This is the beginning of the path of consolidation of the democracy in Haiti,” she added.
The first round balloting was marred by sporadic acts of violence and in one instance businessman Nestor Michelet, the presidential candidate of the Coalition for the convention of the Reconstruction of the Haitian Citizens Reconciliation" (CORRECH) was admitted to hospital with a broken arm.
“I hoped that we would collectively set a benchmark in democracy, a signal of preparedness to our brothers and sisters in the Caribbean, Latin America and around the world, and at the same time, do so with adherence to rule of law throughout.
“While gravely disappointed in the confusion caused by a lack of coordination and the arbitrary closures of polling offices, serving as a catalyst to the violence that followed today, I again urge our citizens to remain calm, safe and our national and international security forces to assist in keeping the peace,” he said in a statement.
He urged Haitians not to “play in to the hands of those who would leverage this news to suggest that we are not ready for change”.
Electoral officials say while 5.8 million people had been registered to vote to elect 119 deputies and 20 senators, there were at least 1,855 candidates contesting the 139 parliamentary seats.
There were 1,558 voting centers with a total of 13,725 polling stations and the officials say they expect the results to be known within the next 10 days.
“It is true that there has been some small problems, but we salute the people that came out to do his duty,” said Prime Minister Evans Paul.