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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 August 2005, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Haiti 'not ready for elections'
Haitian voters
ICG suggests that only a fifth of voters have registered
Haiti might have to postpone elections in two months' time because it is ill-prepared, according to a new report.

Brussels-based think tank International Crisis Group (ICG) says only a fifth of Haitians have registered to vote and the process is due to end next week.

Local and municipal elections are planned for October with parliamentary and presidential elections in November.

The report says insecurity is partly to blame for the pace of the registration.

Criminal gangs

The group says there is "no quick fix" for Haiti's problems and that if the international community pulls out before the situation has been rectified the country could collapse again.

Haitian protest
Armed gangs in Port-au-Prince mean many voters feel unsafe

"Empty elections that produce a government with little legitimacy could drive Haiti into permanent failed state status, run by drug and criminal networks," said Mark L Schneider, Crisis Group's Senior Vice President.

The report places much of the blame for the slow pace of the registration on a lack of security in the capital Port-au-Prince - home to almost a third of voters.

"Adequate security, public understanding of the elections, and a broad participation by those who want to register and vote are essential if there are to be fair and free elections," it said.

But, it warned "Grave doubts exist that such conditions can be established in the next few months without extraordinary efforts by Haitians, the UN, the OAS and the major donors.

Recent UN attempts to confront armed criminal gangs in the city's slums need to be increased and carried out in a "targeted fashion", the report says.

The report also stated the need to rebuild public confidence in democracy after the elections.

"Elections are part of a long process of recovering from state failure, not the final step in that process," said Mr Schneider.


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