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#4018: Aristide's Party Scores More Wins in Haiti Vote (fwd)


 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - Lavalas Family, party of former
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, strengthened its grip on parliament
with strong election results in Haiti's heavily populated capital,
according to vote tallies announced on Wednesday. The Provisional
Electoral Council (CEP) released results from the West Department, which
encompasses the capital Port-au-Prince, home to some two million of
Haiti's 7.5 million people. The results fortified an apparent landslide
for Lavalas Family in national elections held May 21. Coupled with
results announced on Monday for much of the rest of the country,
 the latest tallies gave Lavalas Family outright victories for 16 of 19
senate seats contested in the May 21 election.                         
Lavalas Family also has won 23 of 83 seats in the  Chamber of Deputies
-- the lower house in Haiti's bicameral parliament -- according to the
Provisional  Electoral Council. More than 50 chamber seats will        
be decided in runoff elections on June 25. Elections have still not been
held in Grande Anse, one of Haiti's nine geographic departments, or
states, due to partisan bickering. Grande Anse has two senate
 seats and 11 deputy seats open. Aristide, a former Roman Catholic
priest who was elected president in 1990 and remains Haiti's most
popular politician, is widely expected to run for and retake
 the presidency later this year. Controlling parliament in anticipation
of his return was at the heart of Lavalas Family's campaign. The United
States led an international invasion of Haiti in 1994 to restore
Aristide, who was ousted in a military coup three years earlier. Haiti
is struggling to establish a stable democracy following decades of
 dictatorship. The May 21 elections were its first in more than three
years. The vote, marred by chaotic scenes and long lines at polling
stations, were declared flawed but fair by international elections
observers. But some opposition parties have dropped out of the
balloting, calling the vote fraudulent. The results announced by the CEP
Wednesday for the West Department gave its two available senate seats to
Aristide allies Dany Toussaint and Yvon Neptune. Lavalas Family also won
outright 11 of the 13 Chamber of Deputies seats for the West Department.
 ``This is a victory of the population because the majority of the
people -- in spite of the threats and intimidation to keep them away
from the polling stations -- have decided to make a statement,''
Neptune, Lavalas Family spokesman, told Reuters. Haiti was rocked by
escalating violence in the months leading up to elections, with at least
15 political killings. The vote was postponed four times due to
logistics problems registering four million voters. The elections were
considered critical for reestablishing parliament, which President Rene
Preval dissolved in January of 1999 to end a lengthy political
stalemate. Preval has been ruling by decree since. As a result of the
chaotic political situation in Haiti, the poorest nation in the western
hemisphere, more than $500 million in international aid requiring
parliament approval has been stalled.