(Announcer) At a news conference given yesterday, the secretary-general of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) assessed the progress of the voter registration process. According to Rosemond Pradel, about 200,000 people are already registered, 103 registration offices are operational, and 117 are still to be opened. The CEP is planning to increase the number of registration offices if necessary. Pradel blames the international partners involved in the organization of the elections for the slowness in the electoral process. Secretary-General Pradel spoke as follows:

The delay is due to the fact that there are some international operators that have entered the game. As you know, the OAS (Organization of American States) is responsible for voter registration. The United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) is in charge of the places where the offices will be set up. And the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) is providing equipment in terms of generators for each office.

The issue here is that there is a weakness in the coordination among all the partners, and this causes a delay, an obstacle. For instance, in the case of the town of Arcahaie, an office has been ready there for over one month now. But it cannot be used yet because there is no electricity there. The computers and technicians are there but because MINUSTAH has not yet sent the generator, this office is not operational.

What we are going to do now is to meet with the various partners to see if coordination can be stepped up to help find an immediate solution. At what point are we now with the registration process? There are 103 offices that are working and there are 117 that will be opened very soon. Preparations are being made to make them functional.

So far, about 200,000 voters have registered. This is a very low and insignificant percentage. I know that many people are worried about this situation. They say that if this is the case then elections will not take place this year. As for us, we say that elections will take place. It is true that there is a worrisome delay in the process. The process of opening offices is very slow. But the pace can be accelerated within a week or two. By this I mean that there are more than one hundred centres that are ready — the computers are there as well as the technicians. All we need now is for the generators to be installed. So, I believe that efforts are under way to supply the centres with generators. So, it is possible for these centres to start working in a very short time.

So now, the question that should be asked is this. How are we going to ensure that all the voters are registered by the first week of August? As for us, we say that there are two extra steps that are still to be taken. The first step is to increase the number of registration offices. We cannot do that now because we are waiting for all 424 centres to become operational before we can determine whether or not we should add more centres. The second step is a legal arrangement that can allow us to extend the registration process. So, this can make it possible for us to keep the dates set for the holding of the elections.

We are not ruling out the possibility for the date set for the municipal and local elections to be pushed back. But the majority of CEP members do not want to start working on this possibility now because, as far as we are concerned, this would be intellectual laziness. We do not want to postpone the dates without first of all trying to make all the necessary efforts and capacity to respect the set dates. What we are doing now is to do everything possible to respect the dates. So, the possibility of postponing the electoral dates is like the last card that we will have to play at the last minute if this should become necessary. Our efforts today should be made in all that is possible and available in terms of intelligence, suggestions, and participation of the people and all the sectors to respect the dates set for the elections. So, I think that it would be laziness on our part if we do not make an effort to maintain the dates. It is only at the last minute after we have done everything possible, and if it is necessary then we will put back the dates.