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#4246: Activists Block Streets in Haiti (fwd)


Friday June 16 10:36 AM ET  Activists Block Streets in Haiti

 By MICHAEL NORTON, Associated Press Writer 

 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Militant supporters of former President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide blocked downtown Port-au-Prince on Friday,
setting up barricades of flaming tires and stoning passing cars to
demand the results from local and legislative elections. ``If the
electoral council doesn't publish the results by 2 p.m. we'll block the
country and we don't know what will happen after,'' grass-roots
spokesman Serge Vilain said in an interview with private Radio
Metropole. The elections are considered critical to restoring democracy
and foreign aid to Haiti, which has been without a Parliament since
President Rene Preval dismissed legislators in January 1999 to resolve a
power struggle. Downtown stores and schools stayed shut after activists
set up barricades before dawn Friday on the national highway leading to
Port-au-Prince and on a main  north-south artery.                    
Firefighters and police occasionally intervened to remove the blockades,
but the small groups of activists rebuilt them. Preliminary results
published last month showed Aristide's Lavalas Family party winning 16
of l7 Senate seats contested May 21 and more than 20 seats in the
83-member House of Deputies. On Tuesday, electoral official Luciano
Pharaon told reporters he had sent the final results to the electoral
 council. Since then, no reason has been given for the delay in their
publication. More than 2 million Haitian voters - 60 percent of the
electorate - cast their ballots in elections that the National
 Council of Election Observers and the Organization of American States
Observation Mission said were acceptable despite numerous
irregularities. Nevertheless, both observer teams have criticized the
method used to determine first-round senate winners - calculating the
required 50 percent plus one vote on the basis of votes won by top
contenders instead of all contenders - as not conforming with electoral
law. That count method gave at least eight of the 17 contested seats to
Aristide candidates who otherwise would have to face a second round of
balloting June 25. The United States and United Nations supported the
objections, which the provisional electoral council rejected. Charging
the elections were fraudulent and set up to favor Aristide candidates,
opposition parties have called for the resignation of the electoral
council. On Thursday two members of the nine-person council announced
their resignations in response. Aristide is largely favored to sweep
November presidential elections.