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#4247: Haiti-Elections (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>


   PORT-AU-PRINCE, June 16 (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.