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#4236: U.N. Presses Haiti on Election Results (fwd)


Thursday June 15 2:19 PM ET 
 U.N. Presses Haiti on Election Results By Trenton Daniel

 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has
pressed Haiti's election organizers to recalculate the results in the
country's recent parliamentary elections, saying he was ``troubled by
 continuing irregularities'' in the vote-counting. The May 21 election,
Haiti's first national vote in more than three years, was considered a
critical step in the impoverished Caribbean nation's struggle to build a
stable democracy after decades of dictatorship and military
 rule. International observers with the Organization of American States
(OAS) said on June 2 that the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), a
nine-member body required by Haiti's Constitution to organize elections,
had incorrectly calculated the vote percentages for Senate candidates.
 Annan entered the fray on Wednesday, saying he was ''troubled by
continuing irregularities in the way the votes for Senate candidates
were being calculated, as pointed out by the Organization of American
States.``He (Annan) reiterates his expectation that in calculating the
final results, the Haitian electoral authorities will strictly adhere to
the procedures stipulated in the electoral law of July 1999,'' the
statement added. Haiti's electoral law says candidates must receive 50
percent plus one vote to win without a runoff. The CEP has said it
followed an internationally accepted formula used in prior elections. No
final results have been released, but the council said the Lavalas Party
of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide won at least 16
 of the 19 vacant Senate seats and 23 of the 83 seats in the Chamber of
Deputies, which together make up Parliament. OAS observers said Haitian
election organizers incorrectly calculated the percentages, with only
the votes for the top two or three candidates tallied to determine
whether the 50 percent threshold was met. In some races
 there were dozens of candidates, and votes for lesser candidates were
not counted in determining if anyone captured more than 50 percent.
 Annan's special representative for Haiti, Alfredo Cabral, said in New
York on Wednesday that OAS observers had brought the matter to the
attention of the CEP and Haitian President Rene Preval. ``In response,
the chief of the CEP had told the observer mission that its conclusions
were premature, could be viewed as an interference in Haiti's internal
affairs, and had the potential to complicate the issue,'' Cabral said.

 U.N. Firmly Behind Oas Observers

 He said the United Nations stood firmly behind the OAS observer
mission, adding, ``The electoral law was clear and there was no reason
why it should not be applied.'' In a statement released from U.N.
headquarters in New York, Annan said he was pleased by the turnout for
the elections, which were preceded by the killings of more than a dozen
candidates and party officials. ``Despite serious security concerns in
the lead-up to election day, some 50 per cent of the country's newly
 registered electors had chosen to vote, thereby endorsing a peaceful
democratic process regulated by the Constitution and secondary law,''
the statement said. ``However, the secretary-general was disquieted by
the series of arrests in the days following the elections, and
 particularly concerned that many of those detained were candidates or
activists affiliated with opposition parties,'' U.N. spokesman Fred
Eckhard said. Haiti's government has been paralyzed for most of the past
three years after parliamentary elections held in April 1997 were
declared fraudulent. Preval dissolved Parliament in January 1999 and has
since ruled by decree. 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.