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#4273: AP FWD - Electoral Council Head Flees Haiti (fwd)


June 18, 2000

Electoral Council Head Flees Haiti

Filed at 2:06 a.m. EDT

By The Associated Press
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- The president of Haiti's electoral council has
fled his violence-prone country, fearing for his life after he refused to
sign elections results for last month's contested balloting, sources said.

Leon Manus sought asylum in an unidentified foreign mission Friday afternoon
and crossed the border of the neighboring Dominican Republic Saturday en
route to the United States, where his children reside, two diplomats and a
Haitian Cabinet minister told The Associated Press on condition of

Senior government officials had instructed the 78-year old former appeals
court judge to sign the final election results. When he refused, they
threatened him, the diplomats said.

Manus told a friend that he had been told he would be killed if he did not
sign onto the results, which he felt were incorrect, the friend told The
Associated Press, speaking on condition of anonymity.

More than 2 million Haitians cast votes May 21 -- the largest ever to vote
in legislative elections in this county -- despite threats of violence at
the polls. The 60 percent turnout was largely seen as a demand for the
restoration of democracy in a country long ruled by military and civilian

But publication of the results has been delayed without explanation, even
though election official Luciano Pharaon announced Tuesday he had sent the
final results to the election council.

On Friday, supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's party set
tires aflame in downtown Port-au-Prince to back their demands that results
giving his Lavalas Family Party a sweeping lead be published immediately.

The opposition charges the elections were set up to ensure a massive win for
Aristide, who is largely favored to sweep November presidential elections.

The National Council of Election Observers and the Organization of American
States Observation Mission said the elections were acceptable despite
numerous irregularities.

Nevertheless, both observer teams criticized the method used to determine
first-round 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 17 contested Senate seats to
Aristide candidates who otherwise would have to face a second round of
balloting June 25.

In response, most opposition parties called for a boycott and the
resignation of the electoral council, charging mass fraud in favor of
Aristide candidates. On Thursday, two members of the nine-person council who
belong to the opposition resigned in protest.