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#4413: Haiti President Sets Runoff for July 9 (fwd)


Tuesday June 27 2:04 PM ET  Haiti President Sets Runoff for July 9
 By Trenton Daniel

 PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Haiti's president said the disputed results
of the Caribbean nation's recent parliamentary elections were final, and
tentatively set a runoff for July 9, Radio Metropole reported on
Tuesday. President Rene Preval made the announcement on Monday to a
group of ambassadors, international election observers and
private-sector representatives, who have all pressed the Haitian
government to respect electoral law and recalculate the first-round
election results. The May 21 election, Haiti's first national vote in
more than three years, was considered a critical step in the
impoverished country's struggle to build a stable democracy after
decades of dictatorship and military rule. But election monitors with
the Organization of  American States (OAS) alleged that voting         
percentages for the first-round winners were miscalculated, awarding an
outright victory to several candidates who should have gone into a
second round. The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), which supervised
the vote, said it followed an internationally accepted formula used in
prior elections. The CEP released the results last week. The ruling
Lavalas Family party, the party of former President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, won 15 of the 19 contested Senate seats and 26 of the 83 seats
in the lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies. Lavalas also
won most of the mayoral and local posts at stake in the election.
 Although Preval said election results were final, they will not be
official until they are published in Le Moniteur, Haiti's official
gazette. The runoff had been scheduled for June 25, but was postponed
because of the dispute over the counting method and late elections in
one of Haiti's nine geographic departments. The OAS, which sent a
representative to Monday's meeting with Preval, had not
 decided whether to continue its election-monitoring mission, a
spokeswoman said. ``The future of the mission is to be decided by the
secretary-general of the OAS, Cesar Gaviria, who will make the decision
in consultation with member states of the OAS,'' said OAS spokeswoman
Hannah Taylor. ``We're awaiting his decision to see whether we will
observe the July 9 runoff.'' 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. He is expected to contest and win
Haiti's presidential election later this year.