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#4744: Haitians Vote For Lower-House Seats (fwd)


Sunday July 30 8:20 PM ET  Haitians Vote For Lower-House Seats 
  By MICHAEL NORTON, Associated Press Writer 

 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Haitians in several districts voted  
Sunday in runoff elections for 10 lower-house seats, despite most
political parties' call for a boycott and international threats to
suspend aid if questionable earlier results are not revised. Haiti
already held first- and second-round voting in most of the country on
May 21 and July 9, respectively, with results so far showing a strong
victory for the Lavalas Family party of former President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, winning both houses of parliament. Sunday's voting will
determine seven seats in the southern Grand'-Anse district, where the
first round of voting was delayed until June 11, and three seats in
other districts. The run-off is necessary because no single candidate
won a majority of votes in the first round. Haiti has been without a
parliament since January 1999, when Aristide's hand-picked successor
 President Rene Preval shut it down to end a power struggle with the
majority party over charges of election fraud in 1997. Polls opened at 6
a.m. and closed 12 hours later. No violent incidents were reported, but
 communications between the districts and Port-au-Prince could not be
established, and turnout was  unknown. The results are likely to be
published within a week.  These run-offs will be the final balloting in
the parliamentary elections, which have been plagued by delays, violence
and disputes over the results. In May 21, June 11, and July 9 elections,
the Lavalas Family won overwhelming control of both houses  of
Parliament, with 18 of 19 upper-house seats and more than 60 seats in
the 83-seat lower-house Chamber of Deputies. Aristide's party also won
77 percent of city halls and a majority of urban and rural councils. The
United States, Canada and the European Union have threatened to cut aid
if Haiti does not revise the elections results. Japan last week
suspended $13.5 million in aid to the impoverished Caribbean nation over
its political instability.