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#4906: OAS delegation in Haiti to discuss tainted vote (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

WIRE:08/17/2000 14:28:00 ET
  OAS delegation in Haiti to discuss tainted vote  

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Aug 17   (Reuters) - A delegation from the
Organisation of American States arrived on Thursday to discuss with    
Haitian officials the disputed results of recent national elections that
raised the  threat of sanctions against the impoverished Caribbean
nation. The legislative and local elections, held in several stages in
May, June and July, were meant to  be a step on Haiti"s slow road to
democracy after  decades of dictatorship but instead left the poorest 
country in the Americas mired in controversy. The OAS mission monitoring
the vote concluded that a run-off held in July was "fundamentally
flawed" because it failed to include races for 10 Senate seats. The OAS
declined to participate in the second round of elections because Haitian
authorities refused to reexamine the skewed vote tally in the first
round. On Wednesday, Haiti"s government published election
 results in the Monitor, the official gazette. Once published, the
results are final, according to electoral  law. The results yielded a
sweeping victory for Lavalas Family, the party of former president
Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Lavalas Family won 18 of 19 seats in the Senate,
72 of 83 seats in the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of
parliament, and a majority of local government posts. Various opposition
parties took the remaining legislative seats.


 Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest who took office in 1991 as
 Haiti"s first freely elected president, is widely  expected to retake
the presidency in elections scheduled for November 26. OAS
Secretary-General  Cesar Gaviria is expected to meet with President
  Rene Preval, Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis  and Minister of
Foreign Affairs Fritz Longchamp, the  OAS told Reuters. While the OAS
was expected to try to resolve the dispute over the election, the
Haitian Government has said that it will not review the results.
Ambassadors from Argentina, Chile and Venezuela and a member of
Caribbean trade organisation Caricom were also expected to participate
in the talks.International observers said elections officials skewed the
election by miscalculating the vote percentages of the winning
candidates in first-round senate races, thereby giving some candidates
outright wins when they should have been forced into run-offs. The
United States, France, Canada and the European  Union criticised the
method and asked that results be recalculated. Haiti"s government has
been paralysed for most of the past three years after parliamentary
elections held in April 1997 were declared fraudulent. Preval dissolved
parliament in January 1999 and has since ruled by decree.