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Cablegate: Donor Ambassadors Initiate Dialogue On Election Support

VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHPU #0961/01 3381607
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 041607Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0065
INFO HAITI COLLECTIVE
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS 0001

C O N F I D E N T I A L PORT AU PRINCE 000961

NOFORN
SIPDIS
STATE FOR S, C, WHA AND DRL
AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PASS TO AMCONSUL QUEBEC

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/12/04
TAGS: PGOV PREL EAID HA
SUBJECT: Donor Ambassadors Initiate Dialogue on Election Support

REF: PAP 1006

CLASSIFIED BY: Kenneth Merten, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) Summary: At a December 1 meeting of Ambassadors
representing the election donor group (US, Canada, UN, EU and
Brazil), there was general agreement that the international
community should provide assistance to help carry out the upcoming
elections in Haiti despite donor frustration over the decision by
the Electoral Council (CEP) to exclude Lavalas and the CEP's
reneging on its commitment to the donors to give Lavalas a chance
to get its documents in order (reftel). All agreed that Preval and
the CEP will not go back on the decision to exclude Lavalas. UN
SRSG Annabi proposed that the way forward is for the donors to
convoke a technical level ''table sectorielle'' to coordinate
election assistance, to meet as a group with Preval to express
disappointment with the decision to exclude Lavalas and to extract
a commitment from him of greater transparency in the election
process, and then to hold a joint press conference to announce
donor support for the elections and to call publicly for
transparency. End summary.

2. (C) On 1 December, the Ambassador of Brazil hosted a meeting of
the Ambassadors of the countries that have traditionally provided
support to elections in Haiti (US, Canada, UN, EU, Spain and
Brazil) to begin a dialogue on support for the upcoming Haitian
elections. Central to the discussion was whether the international
community should support the elections after the Provisional
Electoral Council (CEP), almost certainly in conjunction with
President Preval, had decided to exclude Lavalas (among other
parties) from participating in the upcoming elections. The Canadian
Ambassador argued that support for the elections as they now stand
would be interpreted by many in Haiti as support for Preval and the
CEP's decision against Lavalas. The Canadian Ambassador said that
the CEP had acted in bad faith in telling the donors they would
reconsider their exclusion of Lavalas if Lavalas could present the
documents required by law to register their candidacy, only to come
out 24 hours later with a statement to the press saying that their
decision was final. ''If this is the kind of partnership we have
with the CEP going into the elections, what kind of transparency
can we expect from them as the process unfolds?''

3. (C) All agreed that Preval and the CEP would not to go back on
their decision to exclude Lavalas and others. The EU representative
noted that the international community has too much invested in
Haiti's democracy to walk away from the upcoming elections, despite
its imperfections. Ambassador Merten argued for meeting with the
CEP and Preval to hold them accountable for the transparency of the
electoral process, and then supporting a robust election
observation effort that will put additional pressure on the GOH to
conduct a transparent election. The EU opined that Preval would not
respond to donor pressure, and advocated instead going directly to
the media to express donor dissatisfaction with the exclusion of
Lavalas and calling for the GOH to be more transparent in the
conduct of these elections than they have been up until now.

4. (C) The EU and Canadian Ambassadors said that Preval's actions
to date have emasculated the opposition and that unless
international donors are prepared to help level the playing field,
the opposition will cease to be much of a meaningful force in the
next government. The EU suggested that donors purchase radio air
time for opposition politicians to plug their candidacies. UN SRSG
Annabi noted that the radio gives virtually unfettered access to
politicians opposed to the government and said that lack of access
to the media is not a problem faced by the opposition parties in
Haiti.

5. (C) Annabi proposed that the way forward would be for the
election donors to first convoke a technical level ''table
sectorielle'' to discuss with the GOH its election support needs
and to coordinate possible donor assistance. Second, he suggested
that the group of donors meet with President Preval to say that the
exclusion of Lavalas (and others) undermines international
confidence in the transparency of the elections and call on Preval
to take measures to ensure that the process is free and fair.
Annabi, echoing the EU Ambassador, said that the donors should tell
Preval that we are prepared to ''use the bullhorn'' (i.e. denounce
electoral violations publicly) if the GOH or CEP take actions that
undermine the credibility of the elections. And finally, Annabi
proposed that the donors call a joint press conference to announce
that they will be providing assistance to the election process, and
telling the Haitian people that they will be vigilant that
elections are free and fair.

6. (C) Comment: Having obtained assurances from the CEP in late
November that it would revisit the exclusion of Lavalas, the
election donor Ambassadors were frustrated that donor leverage was
insufficient to guarantee an inclusive election. While Lavalas
clearly shares in the blame for its exclusion (for not turning in
the proper documentation), it comes out of this process looking
like a martyr and Haitians will believe (correctly) that Preval is
manipulating the election. Without donor support, the electoral
timetable risks slipping dangerously, threatening a timely
presidential succession. It is important that we support these
elections, and that we use our leverage to ensure a maximum of
transparency, inclusion, and adherence to rules.
MERTEN

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