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#4602: Observers Criticize Haiti Elections (fwd)


Thursday July 13 2:03 PM ET  Observers Criticize Haiti Elections      
By GEORGE GEDDA, Associated Press Writer 

 WASHINGTON (AP) - An international mission that monitored the recent
electoral process in Haiti said Thursday runoff elections on July 9
 were ``fundamentally flawed'' because they failed to include races for
10  Senate seats. The allegation was contained in a preliminary report
by the Organization of American States Electoral  Observer Mission to
Haiti. The May 21 elections, coupled with last Sunday's runoff, gave a
powerful boost to the Lavalas Party of former President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, who is expected to win another term as president in elections
set for November. The mission's report, read to a special meeting of the
OAS permanent council by its chairman, Orlando  Marville of Bardados,
said the 10 Senate races should have gone to a second round because no
candidate won an absolute majority on May 21. The mission registered its
disapproval of the process by dropping plans to monitor the second round
two days before the balloting was held.  Marville noted that the
president of Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council resigned his post and
left the  country rather than validate what he considered to be an
electoral fix.  He said the irregularity came to light in late May when
the CEP issued preliminary results in which ``the  absolute majority was
based on a limited number of candidates instead of the total number of
valid votes. ``By these calculations, 17 senatorial races were decided
in the first round, of which 16 winners were from the Lavalas Party,''
he said. Haitian Foreign Minister Longchamp Emmanuel Fritz, who flew
here from Haiti for the meeting on  short notice, said the electoral
mission was meddling in Haitian internal affairs`I don't know how an
outside body can impose certain things on a government,'' he
said.        As for the substance of the mission's complaints, the
minister said it is difficult to apply the electoral law  in senatorial
contests for more than one seat in an electoral district. The CEP, he
said, ``sought in good faith a method that was closest to the spirit of
the law.'' He added that the Haitian government does not defend one
method of tallying over another. Both methods have flaws, he said, and
the CEP felt it was better for the country to decide on the one that was
``closest to the reality'' of the popular vote. The State Department
shares the electoral mission's view of the situation. It said on Monday
that the runoff was ``incomplete and inappropriate'' because of the
CEP's handling of the Senate races.