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#3805: OFL the Probable Winner (fwd)
From: Max Blanchet <MaxBlanchet@worldnet.att.net>
Published Tuesday, May 23, 2000, in the Miami Herald
Early results show Aristide party win
Haiti elections back ex-leader
BY DON BOHNING
PORT-AU-PRINCE -- Preliminary evidence suggested Monday that former
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas Family party may be headed
for a substantial victory in Sunday's parliamentary and local elections.
Final results are not likely to be known for several days, but
diplomats, journalists and international and national election observers
who monitored vote counting at selected individual polling stations said
most reflected a heavy margin for Lavalas candidates.
One local political analyst who is not pro-Aristide had predicted that
Lavalas would win six to nine of 19 Senate seats and 15 to 20 of the 83
seats in the lower chamber. He upped that assessment Monday to 12 to 14
Senate seats and 50 to 60 in the lower chamber.
The new parliament is expected to be seated in July, paving the way for
Aristide's reelection to the presidency later in the year and opening
the country up to foreign aid that has been stalled by lack of a
parliament since January 1999.
``If the results I have yesterday from a dozen voting places are the
same throughout the country, it means Aristide is going to be the next
president of Haiti with a parliament in which he has a majority,'' said
the Haitian analyst, who asked to remain anonymous.
He added that he believed such an outcome was not the result of fraud,
but the fact that ``the Haitian people voted overwhelmingly for
[Lavalas] because they wanted Aristide to come back. They did not vote
for the candidate.''
As indications of the Lavalas victory began to emerge, so did
allegations of irregularities from opposition leaders, reinforced by the
organizational disarray of the elections.
At one electoral office in downtown Port-au-Prince, poll workers
apparently finished their tally late Sunday then dumped the ballots into
Orlando Marville, a Barbados diplomat who heads an Electoral Observation
Mission for the Organization of American States, said voter tally sheets
and the voter registry remained in the offices where the ballots had
In the island of Gonave, off Port-au-Prince, opposition parties refused
to accept the results of Sunday's election, charging that all the
polling stations were under the control of Lavalas. In the Grand Anse
department of southwestern Haiti, elections were postponed because of a
dispute over the composition of the local provisional electoral council.
Marville said his office had unconfirmed reports of election day
violence at only 15 of more than 11,200 polling stations, most in rural
areas northeast of the capital. They included such things as armed men
taking over polling stations and burning of ballot boxes.
A minor party candidate for mayor of Port-au-Prince died Monday
following a clash between his supporters and those of Lavalas. The
candidate, Jean-Michel Holefen, was hit in the head by a rock. Police
fired tear gas to break up the melee in downtown Port-au-Prince.
Meanwhile, both local and foreign observers hailed the Sunday election
for its high voter turnout and the lack of violence, despite its
The turnout, said Marville, ``was very acceptable.'' He did not have
percentages yet but said ``it seemed to have been about 50 percent'' of
Haiti's one million registered voters.
``Haiti has surprised the world with an election that had a lesser
degree of violence and higher level of turnout than expected,'' said
Lionel Delatour, secretary general of a private sector foundation.
Both Marville and a U.S. congressional delegation, including Rep. John
Conyers, D-Mich., and William Delahunt, D-Mass., praised the election
day work of Haiti's beleaguered National Police for helping to maintain
But their highest praise went to the Haitian voters.
``Though we do not presume to paint the entire picture, or draw any firm
conclusions from our preliminary observations, we can say we saw a firm
commitment from Haiti's citizens to make these elections a success,''
the delegation said.
Copyright 2000 Miami Herald