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#1980: Vandals Burn Haiti Voter Material (fwd)


Sunday January 23 9:30 PM ET ______ Vandals Burn Haiti Voter Material

 By MICHAEL NORTON Associated Press Writer 

 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Vandals sacked election offices Sunday in
three towns and burned election materials shortly before the start of
voter registration for Haiti's upcoming elections, officials said.
 Heavily armed men on Sunday broke into the election office in the town
of Dame-Marie in southern Haiti and made off with hundreds of blank
voter identification cards bought with U.S. funds for the March
elections, officials said. The election bureau in coastal Petit-Goave,
some 40 miles west of Port-au-Prince, also was sacked early Sunday,
election official Marie-Roselore Aubourg said. On Saturday night,
vandals broke into the election office in Beaumont, a town some
 150 miles west of Port-au-Prince, she said. They torched documents,
blank cards and other materials. Aubourg said local elections officials
had identified the vandals in Beaumont as close allies of the Lavalas
Family Party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. All over the
southern Grand'-Anse district, where the towns are located, Aristide
supporters have demanded a reshuffling of electoral officials, alleging
they will rig elections against Lavalas Family allies. ``There is a plot
against the electoral apparatus in our district,'' said Henso
Saintclair, president of the Grand'-Anse electoral division.
 The monthlong voter registration period, beginning Monday, was
originally scheduled for Jan. 20 but was postponed because of violence
in parts of the Caribbean country. The attacks are the latest troubles
in a two-year period of political turmoil. In January 1999, President
Rene Preval shut down the country's parliament after more than a year of
conflicts between the executive and legislative branches.
 He called new two-step elections for November, but they were later
reset for March 16 and April 30. Disputes over the staffing of local
election offices have burst into violence in several other provincial
towns, causing speculation that elections may be delayed again.
 In Grande-Goave, about 35 miles west of the capital, mobs on Thursday
prevented the delivery of voter registration materials and set fire to a
senator's office.