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6213: 15-20% turnout says Caricom (fwd)

From: Affuller@aol.com



Story Filed: Monday, December 04, 2000 

Castries, Haiti, Dec 04, 2000 (EFE via COMTEX) -- The number of voters going to the polls in the Nov. 26 Haitian presidential elections was far lower than officially reported, according to Sir John Compton, head of the Caribbean Community (Caricom) observer mission. 

Turnout was very low, "between 15 and 20 percent in the best of cases," the former Saint Lucia prime minister told a radio station in Castries on Monday. 

This estimate differs sharply with the results released by Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council, which said 60.5 percent of registered voters in Haiti turned out and gave Jean-Bertrand Aristide 91.6 percent of their votes. 

Compton's statement carries special significance because Caricom was the only international entity that sent observers to monitor the elections, because of the irregularities that plagued municipal and legislative elections in May. 

The former premier of Saint Lucia led a Caricom mission that traveled to Haiti several times since May to review the development of the process as well as complaints that officials had tilted the scales in favor of the Lavalas party of former President Aristide. 

Haiti was admitted to Caricom two years ago, but the terms of its full integration remain the subject of negotiations. 

Lavalas, to which current President Rene Preval also belongs, won all nine of the senate seats that were at stake in the November elections. 

With those results, Haiti becomes a de facto one-party state, in which Lavalas - whose name means "landslide" in Creole - controls the presidency, 27 of 28 senate seats, over 80 percent of the seats in the lower house and nearly all of the mayoralties and town councils. 

The few offices not in Lavalas hands are occupied by independents, while the opposition parties have no representation whatsoever. 

The opposition boycotted the last elections, arguing an absence of guarantees for fair voting. EFE