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#3773: Fwd: POLITICS: Haiti Holds Legislative, Municipal Elections (fwd)

From: radman <resist@best.com>

>From: IGC News Desk <newsdesk@igc.apc.org>
>Subject: POLITICS: Haiti Holds Legislative, Municipal Elections
>                       *** 20-May-0* ***
>Title: POLITICS: Haiti Holds Legislative, Municipal Elections
>By Ives Marie Chanel
>Port-au-Prince, May 20 (IPS)  Haitian authorities, alerted by the
>bloody run-up to the polls, are taking measures to ensure that
>voting in Sunday's legislative and municipal elections will not
>become violent.
>The police commissioner has banned the carrying of weapons and the
>sa le of gasoline in containers until May 26. He has also banned
>the use of motorcycles and threatened to arrest anyone caught
>breaking this ban  and impound the vehicle until Monday.
>Many attacks and acts of violence in the capital over the past few
>ye ars have been attributed to individuals on motorcycles.
>In addition, neighbourhoods with polling stations have been closed
>to vehicular traffic and the border with neighbouring Dominican
>Republic  has been shut down until Tuesday morning.
>The violence which has so bedevilled the election campaign in this
>no rthern Caribbean country culminated Wednesday night in a grenade
>attack on t he offices of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP),
>the body charged  with staging the polls. Five people were injured,
>two of them seriously.
>According to the Organisation of American States (OAS), which has
>an election observer mission in Haiti, there have been 118 incidents
>con nected with the elections, 70 of which included acts of violence.
>By May 16,  the OAS reported, seven election candidates and political
>candidates had  been killed.
>The regional body also noted that there were some violations of
>freed om of the press during the election campaign. It listed the
>Apr. l 3 assassination of journalist and Radio Haiti Inter director
>Jean Leopo ld Dominique; acts of coercion against journalists at
>the radio station  Vision 2000, who were forced to go into hiding;
>an attack on an Agence France Presse photographer and threats made
>against journalists in the city  of Gonaives
>But despite this and other problems it has identified with the
>electoral process here -such as not enough middle management in
>place in insure adequate communication between the CEP and various
>officials at the regional and local level - the OAS says it still
>believes fair elections can be held on Sunday.
>Some of the political parties do not necessarily agree. Leaders of
>the two major political parties have blamed the Lafanmi Lavalas
>party of ex-president Jean Bertrand Aristide for Wednesday night's
>grenade a ttack, accusing Aristide supporters of the ''violent
>intimidation of voters  to allow the minority to make a clean sweep
>of the offices up for election''.
>Evans Paul, the spokesman for the Coalition for the Protection of
>Democracy, a grouping of left and centre-right parties, has called
>up on the electorate to go to the polls in droves to defy the
>Lavalas agenda.
>Leslie Manigat, the leader of the Christian democrat Union of
>National Progressive Democrats (RDNP), has accused Prime Minister
>Jacques Edou ard Alexis of double-talk and failing to inspire
>confidence among the electorate.
>''What are we to think?'' asked Manigat. ''One day, the Prime
>Minister says he cannot guarantee voters' safety. The next day he
>says he is ready  to guarantee their safety. We have to believe
>that if there are incident s, they (the authorities) will either
>be unable to assist or are colludi ng with the perpetrators,'' he
>More than four million people, a full 98 percent of the voting-age
>population, have registered to vote. For the first time in the
>histor y of the country's elections, all voting cards will carry
>photo identifica tion.
>There are 29,490 candidates running for 7,500 elective offices.
>From  these Haitians will elect 83 deputies, 19 senators, 399 mayors
>and assistan t mayors, and 1,692 members of town ward administrative
>councils, the country's smallest administrative entities.
>Among the candidates, there are 2,037 women. Fifty-nine political
>par ties have presented candidates, although several of the contenders
>are run ning as independents.
>The CEP has provided for 11,238 polling stations across the 11
>electo ral districts. The elections themselves will be managed by
>44,800 employe es.
>In addition to the OAS, there will be observers from the United
>State s Agency for International Development (USAID), the US
>Congress, severa l French-speaking countries and the local National
>Observer Council (CN O).  The CEP has issued the CNO with 22,000
>identification cards, but up u ntil Friday the group was still
>grappling with serious financial problems  and it is uncertain how
>many observers it will be able to field.
>The OAS observer mission, however, has 100 cars at its disposal
>which  will each carry two unarmed observers, accompanied by a
>chauffeur, to surv ey the course of the elections.
>The international observers are planning to monitor 1, 200 polling
>stations.  (END/IPS/IP/imc/da/00)
>Origin: Rome/POLITICS/ ----
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