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#4745: Haiti Ends Elections, Stands Behind Contested Results (fwd)

From: Rosann Clements <rosann@onemain.com>

Monday July 31 12:34 PM ET
Haiti Ends Elections, Stands Behind Contested Results
By Trenton Daniel
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - Haiti tallied results on Monday for the
final round of voting in national elections that were meant to push the
impoverished Caribbean country toward a stable democracy but instead were
mired in controversy.
Voters in Grand Anse, one of Haiti's nine provinces, and a few small towns
cast ballots on Sunday in a delayed round of run-offs, weeks after the rest
of the country voted.
Polling stations opened late in some areas and voter turnout was low,
causing stations to close before the 5 p.m. deadline, independent Radio
Metropole reported. There were no reports of violence.
``We expect the electoral council to complete the electoral process, and to
submit the results,'' Yvon Neptune, a senator-elect and spokesman for the
ruling Lavalas Family party, told Reuters. ``The senators and deputies will
soon take their places.''
The national elections, the first in more than three years, were considered
crucial in Haiti's struggle to build a stable democracy after decades of
dictatorship and military rule. But they instead sparked further political
controversy and talk of economic sanctions for the hemisphere's poorest
International observers said Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP)
miscalculated the first-round results for senatorial seats, which yielded a
big victory for the Lavalas Family, the popular party of former President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Aristide is widely expected to run for and win the presidency scheduled for
this November.
The Organization of American States advised the CEP to recalculate the
results, but it refused, saying it had followed an internationally accepted
tallying method. The OAS then refused to observe the second round of voting,
saying the first round was not fair.
The Haitian government refused to back down and two weeks ago proceeded with
the inauguration of its mayors. The remaining elected officials are expected
to take office soon.
On Saturday Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis said Haiti's government
was ready to go forward.
``The Haitian people are ready to face sanctions if the international
community imposes them,'' Alexis said at a news conference in the northern
town of Marmelade. ``We will continue to make investments in Haiti with our
own money, because everybody should know that all current projects are not
funded by the international community.''
The election on Sunday, which was held despite the resignation of two
electoral chiefs last week, aimed to fill six seats in the Chamber of
Deputies from Grand Anse province, and three posts from two other provinces.
The Grand Anse district did not hold first-round voting with the rest of the
Caribbean nation on May 21 because of logistic difficulties and thus held
its election on June 11.
Haiti's government has been paralyzed for most of the past three years after
parliamentary elections held in April 1997 were declared fraudulent. Preval,
who succeeded Aristide in 1995, dissolved Parliament in early 1999 and has
ruled by decree since.
A U.S.-led invasion force of 20,000 troops restored Aristide in 1994 after a
military coup ousted him in 1991.