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#4135: Observers look to ensure fair elections in Haiti (fwd)


WIRE:06/07/2000 18:42:00 ET
Observers look to ensure fair elections in
PORT-AU-PRINCE, June 7 (Reuters)  - The Organisation of  American States
 (OAS) said on Wednesday it will send 200  international observers to
monitor  local and parliamentary  elections reset for Sunday in Grand
Anse, one of Haiti's nine provinces. Grand Anse did not vote with the
rest of the Caribbean  nation on May 21 because political fighting
hindered voter  registration. The election, Haiti's first national vote
in more than three  years, was considered a critical step in Haiti's  
struggle to  build a stable democracy after decades of dictatorship and 
military rule. It was marred by OAS allegations that voting        
percentages for  the first-round winners were  miscalculated.          
The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), which supervised  the vote,
said it followed an internationally accepted formula  used in prior
elections and would use the same method to  determine the winners in  
Grand Anse,where about 200,000 of  Haiti's 4 million voters will elect
two senators,11 members of the  Chamber of Deputies, plus mayors and
municipal representatives.If they use the same method of calculation in
Grand Anse,  our point of reference remains the same: to look at how
they included the percentages," OAS spokeswoman Hannah Taylor said.   
The ruling Lavalas Family party of former President Jean  Bertrand
Aristide hoped to win control of Parliament in  anticipation of a return
to power by Aristide, who is widely  expected to run for and win
the presidency later this year.Preliminary results for the other eight
departments indicated that Lavalas had already won 16 of the 19 vacant
seats  in the Senate and 23 of the 83 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, 
which together make up Parliament.Haiti's government has been paralysed
for most of the past  three years after parliamentary elections held in
 April 1997  were declared fraudulent. President Rene Preval dissolved 
Parliament in January 1999 and has ruled by decree since.A U.S.-led
invasion force in 1994 restored Aristide, Haiti's  first freely elected
president, after a military coup removed  him from office in 1991.  At
issue is the way the CEP determined which candidates won  in the first
round. Candidates needed 50 percent of the vote  plus one to win without
going into the June 25 run-off election.  OAS observers said the
calculations were conducted incorrectly, with only votes for the top few
candidates tallied  to determine whether the 50 percent threshold had
been met. In  some races there were 20 to 30 candidates, meaning votes
for  lesser candidates were not counted in determining whether a 
candidate captured more than 50 percent of the vote.