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#4536: U.S. Slams Haitian Elections Ahead of Runoff (fwd)


Friday July 7 4:47 PM ET 
U.S. Slams Haitian Elections Ahead of Runoff

 WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Friday slammed Haitian
plans for a runoff election this weekend it said failed to address a
previous vote which gave ex-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's party an
unfair advantage. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told his
regular news briefing that the methods used in the election on May 21
called into question the credibility of the entire process.
 ``The second round, that doesn't include runoffs for the senate races
-- which is where many of our serious concerns are -- is in fact
inadequate and incomplete to address the issues that are before us,''
Boucher said. ``The failure of the Haitian government and the electoral
authorities to use the proper method in determining winners in the
senate election certainly calls into question the credibility of the
entire Haitian election process,'' he added.Haiti, the poorest country
in the Americas, is holding a second round of parliamentary and   
municipal elections on Sunday, but the vote will not include a runoff
for the senate races. The Organization of American States (OAS), which
 observed the May 21 election, says Haiti's election body calculated the
results in a way that gave Aristide's Lavalas Family Party more outright
wins in Senate and lower house seats than it was due.

 Candidates needed a simple majority to win.

 He described the method as ``flawed'', as it gave ''premature victory
to many senate candidates in the first round''. He noted it had drawn
criticism from across Haitian civil and political society, the
 OAS, United Nations, the European Union, national governments, and the
 president of Haiti's own provisional election council. Boucher said it
was ``not too late'' for Haitian authorities to bring its electoral
 system in line with international standards, adding that the United
States still believed a second round should have been called for the
senate races. Other critics have said the senate results should be
recounted. Boucher implied that the United States would seek to address
the issue in coordination with nations in the Americas or in the
Caribbean region. Asked if the United States would consider economic
sanctions, he replied, ``I'm not saying one way or the other. I'm saying
that what we're doing is we're addressing it ... with the OAS and with
the other people in the region.