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#4041: OAS Finds Flaws Haiti Vote Count (fwd)


Friday June 2 2:30 PM ET 
 OAS Finds Flaws Haiti Vote Count
 By MICHAEL NORTON, Associated Press Writer 

 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - In the latest hitch in Haiti's
problem-plagued election, the Organization of American States questioned
Friday how the winners were determined. Joining opposition politicians
who have cried foul, the OAS said it found flaws in how the winning
percentages in the May 21 local and legislative elections were
calculated. According to partial returns from the election, former
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas Family party
 seized control of Haiti's Senate, sweeping 16 of 17 seats at stake.   
``The percentages attributed to leading senate candidates reveals a very
serious  error,'' Orlando Marville, chief of the OAS election observer
mission, said in a letter to Haiti's electoral council. He asked
officials to recalculate the percentage of votes won by all candidates -
a procedure that could force several declared Senatewinners to run in a
second round of voting. The request was the latest snag in the
problem-plagued voting process of an election that was widely seen as a
 last chance for democracy in this impoverished Caribbean nation of 8
million people. Marville did not deny that most voters cast their
ballots for Aristide candidates. But he questioned whether
 several Lavalas winners obtained an absolute majority of votes needed
to avoid a runoff. The election council vice president, Debussy Damier,
appeared to agree. ``It seems the council miscalculated the
percentages,'' he said. He did not elaborate. Lavalas militant Patrick
Norzeus claimed the council was being pressured to reduce the number of
first-round Lavalas Senate victories from 16 to six. The opposition
Christian Movement for a New Haiti party claimed that the council
declared winners in at least eight Senate races where none of the
candidates won more than 50 percent of the vote. Party spokesman Ernest
Colon said the council apparently counted the votes of only the top four
contenders and not the others who ran and may have gotten a few votes.
Those missing votes would create an erroneous winning percentage count.
One of the declared Senate winners, Lavalas' Yvon Neptune, urged
Haitians in a radio interview Thursday ``to be vigilant, so that no one
will subtract a single one of the people's votes, so that no one will
try to say two and two make five.'' Haiti hasn't had a Parliament since
President Rene Preval shut it down in January 1999 after an 18-month
standoff with opposition senators. Some 145 candidates contested 19
seats in the 27-seat Senate, which has eight incumbent senators. The
entire 83-seat lower house was up for election. Partial results show
more than 20 Lavalas Family lower house candidates won in the first
round. Most opposition parties accuse Lavalas of working to establish a
totalitarian state, and they warn they will boycott the second round of
voting scheduled for June 25. The opposition says Lavalas intimidated
opposition candidates before the election, denying them a level playing
field. At least 15 people - most opposition activists - were slain in
political violence before the election, and about 34 opposition
candidates and activists were arrested afterward. Aristide was elected
in 1990 but was overthrown in a 1991 army-backed coup. U.S. troops
restored him to power in 1994, but Haitian law barred him from seeking a
consecutive term in 1995. Aristide is expected to be a candidate again
for president in November and is expected to win easily.