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#4560: Trouble hits Haiti election BBC NEWS (fwd)


Sunday, 9 July, 2000, 21:48 GMT 22:48 UK                             
Trouble hits Haiti election BBC NEWS

There have been reports of tension as Haiti goes to the polls in the
second round of elections set to hand victory to the party of           
the former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The whole election has
been marred by strong criticism at home and abroad, with international
observers pulling out saying they  did not recognise the voting system
as fair or accurate. Voting in the coastal city of Jacmel has been     
postponed due to "tension", according to Haitian Nationale radio.      
Elsewhere, a regional election official said  voting in Bellance      
would now take place on Monday due to problems transporting            
election materials. There are also some reports of trouble in       
Grande Saline where some people burned ballot papers. In Saint Marc, the
radio reported low turnout but said the poll was progressing smoothly.
The election, for which many anticipate a low turnout, aims to fill 46
seats in the 83-member lower house, the Chamber of Deputies, from      
constituencies throughout the country. The parliamentary and municipal
elections in the Caribbean nation had been viewed as a key step as
Haiti, the poorest country in the  Americas struggles to build a
democracy afterdecades of dictatorship and military rule. 


 The Organisation of American States, which monitored the first round
vote on 21 May, said it would not observe the second round because the
final results for the Senate results were "incorrect". The OAS also
withdrew from the controversial reelection of President Alberto Fujimori
in Peru in May after irregularities there. Most opposition parties in
Haiti are boycotting  the second round of voting in the nation of    
7.5m people.  Critics say that although Jean Bertrand Aristide's ruling
Lavalas party was set to win the elections, the method used to calculate
 the first round gave Lavalas more outright victories in the Senate than
it was due. C

Candidates needed a simple majority to avoid a second-round run-off. Mr
Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest who was Haiti's first freely
elected president, is widely expected to run for and win the  presidency
later this year. A US led invasion force of 20,000 troops restored him
in 1994 after a military coup ousted him in 1991. But Haiti's government
has been paralysed for most of the past three years after parliamentary
elections held in April 1997 were  declared fraudulent.