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#4152: Haiti's Woes Just Keep on Multiplying (fwd)

From: radman <resist@best.com>
>                      *** 06-Jun-0* ***
>Title: POLITICS: Haiti's Woes Just Keep on Multiplying
>By Ives Marie Chanel
>Port-au-Prince, Jun 6 (IPS)- One would have thought that holding
>democratic elections in Haiti would have gone a long way toward
>solving some of the country's political problems. One would have
>been very wrong.
>It appears that the staging of legislative and municipal elections
>on May 21 has only served to exacerbate Haiti's political woes.
>Indeed, the signs that problems were ahead were there all the
>time, what with the violent run-up to the polls, the opposition's
>deep distrust of the government's intentions, the quarrel between
>the president and the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) over the
>actual voting date and a host of other concerns about the
>logistics of the polls.
>Now the opposition is contesting the results of the first round of
>polling. On Monday the parties said the first round of voting was
>so riddled with fraud that it was impossible for them to take part
>in the second round scheduled for the end of the month, and
>formally withdrew their candidates.
>According to information made available to IPS they expect their
>members on the CEP to resign as well.
>All of this does not look good for the staging of presidential
>elections at the end of the year. A failure to hold the
>presidential race could, in turn, cause the retroactive annulment
>of the May 21 polls.
>Each day, the spectre of Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest nation,
>going into a Constitutional crisis becomes more and more likely.
>According to the Constitution, President Rene Preval must resign
>when his term ends in February, if he fails to hold elections on
>If the elections are not held and Preval demits office, the
>president of the Supreme Court would end up heading a provisional
>government in accordance with constitutional law.
>And with the political opposition here adamantly maintaining first
>round fraud, a dark cloud seems to hang over this Caribbean
>country's political future.
>There are innumerable factors which militate against the
>establishment of political order here: ongoing social and
>political unrest; a battered economy; violence; and threats and
>sanctions from the international community. To add to these larger
>concerns are the government's inability to set up a permanent
>electoral council, the more recent opposition decision to boycott
>the second round of elections and official failure to properly
>certify the election results.
>The opposition's cry of foul is not the only one being raised in
>Haiti. The Organisation of America States'(OAS) observer mission
>issued a warning May 31 to the CEP and the government that the
>vote count was flawed.
>In a letter to the CEP, OAS Ambassador Orlando Marville, who is
>also the head of the observer mission, warned that ''there is a
>serious error in the way the votes were counted, and if it is not
>rectified, it could put the validity of the entire election
>process in jeopardy''.
>The mission maintains that the way percentages were calculated and
>attributed to each of the candidates was seriously flawed, and
>that some seats were incorrectly awarded to parties after first
>round balloting. The error in question was spotted by OAS mission
>members when they checked percentage calculations which, Marville
>said, were not carried out according to electoral law provisions.
>The OAS says the CEP was supposed to have based its calculations
>on the sum of the votes of the fewest number of candidates having
>obtained the most votes. As a result, the percentages published by
>the CEP's director of operations are incorrect, the mission says.
>According to the revised OAS calculations, the "Lafanmi Lavalas"
>(Family Lavalas) Party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide
>is indeed ahead in all of Haiti's departments, but in many of them
>a second round of voting will be necessary.
>The CEP's results found that Lavalas had won 16 of 17 Senate seats
>in the first round of voting. But OAS calculations show that only
>seven Lavalas senatorial candidates had got a clear victory in the
>first round.
>In a Sunday evening statement broadcast over state-run television,
>Macajoux Medard, the public relations chief of the Electoral
>Council took issue with the OAS.
>Referring to Article 167 of the Electoral Law, which defines the
>role of observer missions, Medard said that Marville had
>overstepped the bounds of his role in criticising the election
>count. He reaffirmed the CEP's confidence in the counting
>procedures used by its electoral operations technicians.
>The leaders of Aristide's Lavalas party, however, have put the CEP
>on notice that they will not accept any re-evaluation of election
>results already published.
>''It would be a very serious blow to the dignity of the Haitian
>people, who chose peace by voting en masse for Lavalas movement
>candidates,'' declared Yvon Neptune, the party's spokesman and one
>of the CEP's newly-proclaimed senators on Friday.
>                               ----
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