International observers will start arriving in Haiti for Oct. 9 vote

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September 17, 2016 6:46 PM

By Jacqueline Charles

Elections experts from the Organization of American States will begin arriving in Haiti on Sunday for the Oct. 9 presidential rerun.

The OAS is expected to have about 130 observers for the balloting for president and legislative seats. Former Uruguayan Sen. Juan Raul Ferreira will lead the OAS’ mission.

“Even though we never expressly accepted that the right decision was to do a redo, the OAS is there,” said Gerardo de Icaza, director of the hemispheric body’s department of electoral cooperation and observation. “We’re happy that at least a political crisis is being solved through a democratic way.”

The United States and others in the international community have publicly opposed Haiti’s decision to scrap the results of its contested Oct. 25 first-round presidential vote. The U.S. announced that it would not underwrite the $55 million re-do and the European Union pulled its elections observers. But in recent months, U.S. officials have said they support the process and the U.S. is among seven countries funding the OAS’ elections mission.

De Icaza said they have received reports that Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council is applying some of their recommendations, like better ink, to improve the process. The OAS has also offered statistical training for quicker preliminary election results.

“It was the Haitian decision to do them over and now it’s the Haitian responsibility to own that decision and to prove to the world that they were right and they could have better elections than the ones we saw on Oct. 25,” de Icaza said. “Every electoral process has flaws, but hopefully they won’t be as significantly as they were on Oct. 25 and Aug. 9.”

So far every major presidential candidate has been out campaigning in hopes of avoiding a Jan. 8 runoff. Also campaigning is former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. On Friday, he fainted during a campaign rally in the city of Cap-Haitien on behalf of his Fanmi Lavalas political party candidate Maryse Narcisse.

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