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6080: Voters back Aristide massively, believing he will relieve , troubles (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

Published Thursday, November 30, 2000, in the Miami Herald 
Voters back Aristide massively, believing he will relieve troubles

PORT-AU-PRINCE -- An overwhelming majority of the Haitians who went to
the polls Sunday apparently believe former President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide and his Family Lavalas party will improve their lives,
 effectively giving them a mandate to rebuild their decaying economy and
their society. A fractured opposition boycotted the vote, but
 elections officials said that more than half of the 4.2 million
eligible voters went out to cast ballots despite threats of violence,
with 2.6 million, or 92 percent, picking Aristide. The closest candidate
among four others who participated in the presidential contest was
pastor Arnold Dumas with 58,678 votes, or 2.04 percent of the total.
 Yvon Neptune, Lavalas' spokesman and the leader of the Haitian Senate,
said the landslide was a vote of confidence that Aristide can lead the
country into a better future. He spoke of pep la, the Creole word
meaning the common people, the thousands without jobs, growing up in
slums and in pockets of the countryside who have no experience with
schools or medical services. ``Jean-Bertrand Aristide remains a symbol
for the Haitian people,'' Neptune said. ``They realize that everything
he does, he does it in the interest of the people.'' This will be
Aristide's second try at leading Haiti, as he puts it, out of misery
into poverty. Haitians elected him in 1990, but a military junta sent
him into exile seven months later. Aristide returned triumphant to Haiti
in 1994 behind 20,000 American soldiers.
 In a meeting with journalists the previous day, he acknowledged the
extent of his challenges. His people are poor and hungry. Too many
people, eight million according to the latest count, are making too many
demands on the environment and the cities, stressing both past their
limits. More than three quarters of the population are either unemployed
or underemployed. Members of an opposition coalition said they did not
contest the electionsbecause the decks were stacked against them. They
said members of the council that runs the elections were not
independent, and they wanted new legislative elections held to replace
those held in May, which Lavalas candidates won by huge margins.
 Neptune described as being without value the opposition coalition's
argument that the vote was illegitimate because the opposition boycotted
it. The only way for the people to choose their leaders are through
elections, he said. ``If they don't show up, how can the Haitian people
choose them?'' he said. ``There is no other place to do that.''