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29617: (news) Chamberlain: Violence mars Haiti's local elections, one killed (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

     By Joseph Guyler Delva

     PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Dec 3 (Reuters) - An off-duty police officer
was killed and several people were wounded on Sunday during local elections
in Haiti, police said.
     The officer was shot in the head by gunmen near the slum of Martissant
in the capital, Port-au-Prince, police Inspector General Jean Saint-Fleur
     "We have opened an investigation into the murder of the policeman and
other acts of violence while we try to keep the situation under control,"
said Saint-Fleur.
     The motive for the killing was not immediately clear but a witness
said the police officer was killed after a dispute with two people linked
with a political party.
     Haitians were choosing more than 1,000 mayors and other local
officials out of more than 29,000 candidates.
     The winners of the elections will control the nomination process for
an electoral council that will organize elections for the next decade.
Victory also gives the winning party authority over the nomination process
of judges and executive powers for local administrations.
     Two people were injured by gunfire during incidents resulting from a
conflict among rival candidates in the northern city of Gonaives, while two
other people who possessed handmade bombs were wounded by police in the
town of Limonade.
     Heavy gunfire was heard through the weekend in several slum areas in
the capital such as Martissant and Fontamara.
     Police said they had arrested several people who tried to enter
polling centers with guns or were involved in electoral fraud.
     Witnesses reported a series of electoral frauds in the capital,
Gonaives, Hinche and Jeremie.
     "I saw with my own eyes a poll worker fraudulently inserting ballots
into the box," said Maxon Maurice, who complained he couldn't find his name
on the voters' list in a polling center in the capital. Officials at the
polling center denied the allegation.
     Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, held a presidential
election in February, its first election since then-President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide was ousted by a bloody rebellion two years earlier. In that vote,
Rene Preval was declared the winner after he alleged massive fraud at
polling stations.