The International Mission for Monitoring Haitian Elections (IMMHE) has been in Haiti since last August with a team of long-term observers in all regions of the country. The Chair of the IMMHE steering committee, Jean Pierre Kingsley, in Haiti for the last two days, has met many of the principal actors involved in the electoral process and wishes to inform the people of Haiti of the findings of the Mission to date. The main findings also reflect those of the Vice Chairman of the steering committee, Mr. Danville Walker, who has also visited Haiti recently.

Mr. Jacques Bernard, appointed executive director of the CEP slightly more than two months ago, has demonstrated clear leadership in gathering the support of the primary actors, both national and international, in the management of the electoral process.

Both the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH) have joined their efforts to those of the CEP to ensure progress on the different milestones required to achieve successful elections. Notably, Mr. Bernard holds daily meetings with the CEP and the main international actors to assess the state of electoral preparations.

Based on the information that was provided, 1,400,000 national Identification Cards have been distributed to electors, leaving some 2 million to be picked up. The OAS has recently deployed additional efforts to increase the rate of distribution by adding 840 persons to the 1,900 already at work in some 400 distribution centers. These cards are necessary for electors to know where to vote.

While the overwhelming majority of some 800 voting centers were identified in accordance with security criteria, a small number require change. Any modifications to the voting centers will need to be reflected in the cards to be distributed. It is late in the process to consider major changes in this area. In addition, the list of electors must also be made public so that electors may request changes that are required.

At this time, 97% of the electoral staff – some 38,000 persons – has been recruited; they will be trained taking into account the date of the election. Electoral supplies have already been prepared and ballots printed.

In our view, it is necessary to delay the first round of the Presidential and legislative elections scheduled for January 8, 2006. A new date must be set in light of the tasks required to achieve credible elections.

A minimum delay of three to four weeks is necessary for the first round, and the second round should also be delayed, taking into account the time required to deal with complaints and the Carnival period. Moreover, a detailed timeline highlighting the activities, dates and responsibilities must be established with the agreement of all actors.

At this stage of the electoral process, the priority is for citizens to go and pick up their cards. All of the principal actors, the transitional government, the political parties, the CEP, the OAS, MINUSTAH, the media and Haitian civil society must focus on convincing citizens to do just that: go and pick up their cards.

Thus it will be possible to achieve credible elections that are honest, transparent and therefore accepted as such by the people of Haiti as well as the international community.IMMHE Jasmine Vendredi Press Secretary (509) 414-4778