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#4986: Haitian Parliament Sworn in After Disputed Election (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

Monday August 28 9:49 PM ET
 Haitian Parliament Sworn in After Disputed Election 
 By Trenton Daniel

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Haiti's newly elected parliament
Convened on Monday more than 18 months after President Rene Preval
 dissolved the legislature and began ruling by decree.Nineteen senators
and 82 members of the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house in the
bicameral parliament, were sworn in despite complaints from at home and
abroad that the impoverished Caribbean  nation's recent elections were
tainted. Seventy-two of the deputies were from the dominant Lavalas
Family party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Nine seats were
claimed by opposition party members and one by an independent. One seat
was not filled.Eighteen of the 19 seats in the senate went to Lavalas
Family. Haiti's May 21 election, the first national vote in more than
three years, was considered a crucial step in Haiti's efforts to build a
stable democracy after decades of dictatorship and military rule.

The legislative election, which also filled hundreds of local mayoral
posts, sought to restore a parliament that Preval dissolved in early
1999, as well as freeing some $500 million in foreign aid earmarked for
 one of the poorest countries in the world.But the election turned sour
when international observers deemed the vote counting process
flawed.Critics said election officials miscalculated the winning
percentages of 10 senatorial candidates, giving them outright
first-round victories when they should have been forced into runoffs.The
Organization of American States (OAS), which monitored the first-round
vote, called for a recalculation but Haitian authorities refused and
moved ahead with the inauguration of mayors and published election
results in the official gazette.Aristide, who was Haiti's first freely
elected president, is widely expected to run for and win the presidency.
Presidential and additional senatorial elections have been scheduled for
November 26. A U.S.-led invasion, hailed by the Clinton administration
as a foreign policy success, restored Aristide in 1994 after a bloody
coup ousted him in 1991. But Haiti has remained mired in political
chaos. Elections in 1997 were declared fraudulent, which paralyzed
Haiti's government for much of the last three years. On Friday, an OAS
human rights commission completed a five-day fact-finding mission,
noting how the political arena has fostered a climate of human rights
abuses. It cited Preval's dismissal of Parliament as an example.``The
commission considers the most critical and concerning aspect of the
human rights situation in Haiti is the deterioration of the political
climate to the point that no consensus seems to exist about the
formation of the country's fledgling democracy,'' said Helio Bicudo,
president of the Interamerican Commission for Human Rights (CIDH). 
Senator-elect and Lavalas Family spokesman Yvon Neptune was appointed
president of the Senate on Monday. Newly inaugurated deputies were to
meet on Tuesday to choose a president and  vice-president for the