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17375: Orenstein responding to Dailey re elections (fwd)

From: katie orenstein <catherineorenstein@verizon.net>

	Peter Dailey's assessment of Haiti's recent electoral history is
misleading. Regarding the last legislative elections, Dailey writes:
'Although the idea that the "entire international community first praised
the 2000 elections as free and fair" has become an article of faith for
Aristide's more credulous FL supporters, it never happened."

	On the contrary, the OAS Electoral Observation Mission's press release of
May  21, 2000 -- indicative of the official statements of other
international representatives and press at the time -- congratulated "the
voters, the Government, the police and the political parties for having
worked together to create the climate necessary for the vote"  and went on
to describe some problems, but overall to praise the Police and  National
Electoral Observation Council for having guaranteed 'credible and
transparent elections.'  The Grand'Anse region voted a month later, and the
OAS issued a similar statement.
ress_releases/home_eng/press.asp)   Likewise in a daily press briefing of
May 23, State Dept spokesman Philip T Reeker said, 'I would like to
reiterate our satisfaction with Sunday's high turnout and the generally
peaceful voting that took place in Haiti.'

	It was not until June that the OAS issued its first major crticicisms, and
not until July 7 -- two days before the second round of voting was to take
place -- that the OAS suspended it's electoral observation mission in Haiti.
The OAS' criticism was not about the vote, which the chief of the OAS
mission Orlando Marville still called "a great success," but rather about
tabulation methods for senate races.  Because Haitians were obliged to vote
for more than one senatorial candidate at a time in order to fill multiple
vacancies, it was impossible to determine who had won an absolute majority
of the vote (constitutionally necessary to avoid a run-off) and who had
merely won a plurality. Rather than holding run-offs in every case, the
Haitian Electoral Council decided to tabulate percentages based on the votes
for only the top four winners - a decision which the OAS subsequently

	The fact that the OAS disagreed with the Haitian CEP's course of action
didn't automatically render it "fraudulent",  however.   To put it in
context, the Dominican Republic faced a similar issue that year, which was
resolved with little hoo-ha and no accusations of fraud: the two losing
parties in presidential elections decided to allow the winning party
candidate, Hipolito Mejia, to win outright even though he was just short of
the 50% their constitution requires for a first-round victory.  And despite
counting controversies surrounding the last U.S. presidential elections,
they were not, at least not officially, called "fraudulent." Disregarding
for the moment the fact that the OAS is not the electoral authority in
Haiti, it's also worth pointing out that even the OAS did not leap to call
the 2000 legislative elections fraudulent, but only asked the Haitian
authorities redo their calculations (the OAS' July 13 OAS press release can
also be found at the above link).

Catherine Orenstein