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#4378: Haitian Groups Condemn Election (fwd)


Saturday June 24 2:20 PM ET  Haitian Groups Condemn Election
 By MICHAEL NORTON, Associated Press Writer 

 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Haiti's business and religious groups on
Saturday joined opposition parties and the international community in
condemning election results that gave former President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide's party control of the Senate. ``We cannot endorse results that
correspond neither to electoral law nor to generally accepted norms,''
said the declaration broadcast by 17 organizations, including the
Chamber of Commerce, the Association of Haitian Industrialists, the
Roman Catholic Bishops Conference and the Protestant Federation.
 Final results from the May 21 local and legislative elections were
published this week. They showed Aristide's Lavalas Family party winning
16 of l7 seats in the 27-seat Senate during first-round balloting and 26
seats in the 83-member House of Deputies. Since Lavalas is leading in
most lower-house races where a second round is necessary, the party is
likely to control both houses of Parliament.                            
Opposition parties said they would boycott the second round, which was
postponed indefinitely this week. They have called for new elections,
charging that the vote  count was rigged to ensure a victory that would
make Haiti virtually a one-party state. Aristide is favored to win
presidential elections later this year. The United Nations, the
Organization of American States, Canada, France and the United States
all have condemned Haiti's method of calculating first-round Senate
winners. Under Haitian law, candidates must win a majority to avoid a
second round of voting. But officials counted the votes of only the top
four contenders and not the others who ran and may have gotten a few
votes. Those missing votes created an erroneous winning percentage
count, observers say, giving at least eight of 16 Senate seats to
Aristide candidates who otherwise would have to face a second round.
 French Ambassador Yves Gaudeul warned that international aid could be
reduced or halted as a result. ``Haitian authorities had better
understand we aren't joking,'' said Gaudeul, the top EU representative
in the island nation. Some $100 million in EU aid already is suspended
pending a new Parliament. International creditors have also
 frozen $400 million - desperately needed money in this impoverished
Caribbean country.Haiti's Electoral Council has adamantly affirmed its
exclusive right to determine the results, and Lavalas Family spokesman
and Senator-elect Yvon Neptune on Friday called the reaction of the
international community ``a colonial reflex.' Haiti hasn't had a
Parliament since January 1999, when Aristide's protege, President Rene
Preval, dismissed lawmakers to resolve a power struggle and promised new