PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI, NOV. 14 -- Amid a continuing campaign of terror, Haiti's independent elections council today renewed an urgent appeal to the military government to provide security for a nationwide vote scheduled for Nov. 29.
The Rev. Alain Rocourt, treasurer of the nine-member elections commission and head of the Methodist Church in Haiti, said the commission repeatedly has asked the ruling National Government Council for such assistance, but has received no reply.
"The end problem is security and if they wanted to have security, we'd have it," Rocourt said. "We say, 'Please send the word.' So far as we know, they've done nothing."
Rocourt said he is especially concerned about what will happen to the ballots on Election Day.
The elections council is responsible for carrying out the elections for president and a legislature, the first free vote in nearly three decades. On Nov. 2, in line with the new constitution, it disqualified 12 presidential candidates associated with the 28-year dictatorship of the Duvalier family.
That night, arson destroyed its headquarters. Later came attacks on five other election facilities here and six in the countryside, Rocourt said. Campaign offices of several candidates also have been raked with gunfire or burned, Rocourt added, and he and other elections council members continue to get daily death threats.
Since then, a single policeman has been stationed intermittently outside the elections council's new quarters in a Methodist church. No other elections office here has police or Army guards.
"What happened when our office was burned is scandalous," Rocourt said. "Just a few hundred yards from police headquarters, men fired submachines and a flame thrower at 11:30 at night and not a single policeman responded."
At the same time, there are questions about how much the United States is pressuring Haiti's military government to support the elections effectively.
U.S. officials insist they are doing what they can. Many Haitians believe that American influence could compel such assistance and so conclude that the U.S. position is mainly lip service.
Fear among ordinary Haitians is rampant, so much so that many say they have registered to vote, but will wait to see whether the pattern of violence continues before they decide if they will, in fact, cast ballots.
One of the most compelling factors inspiring public fear here are reports during the past two weeks of rogue taxis and jitney vans. Those who get in at random, it is said, are rarely seen again alive.
Lists of the license plates of some of the cabs of death are getting passed around. Many travelers regularly consult such a list before getting into a conveyance.
One man who requested anonymity, out of fear, told of a jitney van on the list trying to pick him up. He peered inside and saw four men including the driver wearing identical clothes and dark glasses in the night. He insisted that his destination was different from theirs. Members of the Duvalier family's feared security force, the Ton-Tons Macoutes, generally wore dark glasses.
Coupled with nightly gunfire and some seemingly random gunshot killings in the slums here, it is not surprising that the streets of this capital are mostly deserted by about 9 p.m.
Diplomats and human rights workers here say that agents of the criminal investigation division of the national police and soldiers from two of the Army battalions here are the perpetrators of most of the violence.
A spate of Army promotions on Thursday that conspicuously passed over certain well-known Duvalier allies may reflect efforts to impose greater control. But the command structure has long been amorphous in a military in which most commanders reported directly to deposed president for life Jean-Claude Duvalier, or, earlier, his father Francois.
At week's end, Rocourt said, the Finance Ministry finally handed over the balance of $4.9 million in aid for the elections that the United States has provided.
U.S. officials promised another $1.5 million for the elections at a meeting this week, Rocourt said. That leaves a shortfall of about $3.4 million from a total budget of about $10 million that the elections council developed with the finance minister and U.S. officials at that meeting, he said.
Canada has provided ballot boxes and paper for the ballots. Computers donated by France were destroyed in the elections office fire.
The Finance Ministry has been cooperative, Rocourt said, but he said that the governing council has not appropriated any of its own revenues for the elections. He said the elections council expects to know by Tuesday exactly how much more money it will get through the ministry.
The elections will come off on schedule, Rocourt said, "if we have security. If the council can change its mind and give us protection, just make sure the streets are in order, that's all we ask," he said.
Rocourt denied accounts by U.S. officials that the elections council had rejected earlier offers of assistance from the governing council, whose dominant members were named by Jean-Claude Duvalier before he resigned and fled to France in February 1986.
What happened, he said, was that the elections council had refused to continue meeting with the junta in July while soldiers and policemen were shooting down demonstrators in the streets. The demonstrations and a series of general strikes began after the junta tried to take control of the elections apparatus.
When the shooting stopped, Rocourt said, the elections council renewed its requests for assistance and negotiations, but got little response.