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#3778: DESPITE SOME IRREGULARITIES, HAITIAN VOTE WAS SATISFACTORY (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Elias Garcia
Port-au-Prince, May 22 (EFE) -- Despite irregularities in the campaign and
during voting, foreign observers said Monday they were largely satisfied
with Haiti's legislative and municipal elections at the weekend.
Some four million people were registered to vote in the polls held
Sunday to choose 83 deputies for the lower house of parliament, 18 of the
27 senators in the upper house, 133 mayors and a number of city councial
and other local officials.
A high turnout rate of between 50 and 60 percent helped give a sheen of
legitimacy to the elections which were held six months later than
originally scheduled and postponed three times.
Campaigning was marred by violence.
"Voting took place in an atmosphere of calm," according to the
Organization of American States (OAS) which fielded 200 foreign observers
to monitor the process.
Even though some violent incidents were reported, the OAS said that they
did not overly influence the tallying of ballots on a national level.
But the mission warned that these were "preliminary observations and
further important information must still be received before a global
evacuation can be made."
The most serious incident occurred when a policeman was shot to death in
a suburb of the capital when he tried to question an armed man hanging
around a polling station.
Many voting booths opened late, in some cases hours late, when ballots
did not arrive in time at isolated villages because of logistical problems
in this island nation, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
Balloting was delayed until a date yet to be determined in the southern
electoral district of Grand Anse where there were 200,000 registered
Voting was also postponed indefinitely on the island of Gonave, just off
Port-au-Prince, where the opposition called a boycott of the polls because
of alleged favoritism on the part of the government of President Rene
Preval towards some candidates.
Analysts said that two opposition groupings, the Organization of the
Struggling People and the Coordination Space, have the most chance of
Because of the complexity of the voting process, the number of
candidates and bad roads around the island, ballot counting will take some
time and results are not expected until next week.
Political crises since 1997 have left Haiti two years without a prime
minister and almost 18 months without a parliament.
This political uncertainly, coupled with the three election
postponements, have caused foreign donors to hold back badly-needed
development aid worth 500 million dollars.
Almost half of the Haitian government's social development programs
depend on foreign aid. EFE