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#3816: Early results show Aristide party win (fwd)


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


 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 the street. 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 been
dumped. 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
technical imperfections. 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
the calm. 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.