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#3780: U.S. hails high turnout in Haitian elections (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
WASHINGTON, May 22 (Reuters) - The United States on Monday
congratulated Haiti on Sunday's elections, noting the strong Haitian public
support and high voter turnout.
Praising the people of Haiti for holding legislative and local
elections "in a pervasive atmosphere of nonviolence and high voter
participation," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher also commended
international observers coordinated by the Organisation of American States.
"Despite some irregularities -- including the delayed opening of many
voting sites -- these elections were a reflection of the will of the
Haitian people to choose their leaders through free and inclusive
elections," Boucher said at a briefing.
"It is essential that the process of tabulating and announcing results
take place in an efficient and transparent manner," he said.
Asked whether American aid to Haiti was being withheld and what must
be done to release it, Boucher sidestepped and said the United States was
waiting for a final vote tally.
"The Organisation (of) American States, which has organised the 200 or
more observers that are down there, says they're withholding their final
evaluation for several days, and we'll wait for that," Boucher said.
The State Department spokesman did not specify how much or what kind
of aid was in question.
Haiti has operated without a full government since President Rene
Preval dissolved parliament in January 1999. That has held up distribution
of more than $500 million in international aid in Haiti. Successful
legislative and local elections could pave the way for a presidential vote