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#3966: Aristide Party Wins Senate Control (fwd)
Aristide Party Wins Senate Control
by MICHAEL NORTON Associated Press Writer
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's
party has won control of Haiti's Senate, according to partial returns
from last week's election, released for the first time Monday.
The results of the May 21 vote -- which was delayed at least four times
-- suggested strong support for the controversial former priest, who is
expected to run for president again this fall.The ballot was widely seen
as a last chance for democracy in the impoverished, unstable Caribbean
nation of 8 million people. The first results, released Monday by
Electoral Council spokesman Jean-Gardy Lorcy, showed the Lavalas Family
Party winning 14 of the 27 seats in the Senate. Of the other five seats
that were up this election,one was won by independent Luc Fleurinor, two
had not been counted as of Monday night and voting was rescheduled in
two because of technical problems. The eight seats that were not up for
re-election are held by representatives from non-Lavalas parties.
Lavalas also won 16 of the 83 seats that were up forelection in the
lower house of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies. In another 31 races
for the lower house, no candidate won an absolute majority,and a runoff
was scheduled for June 25. In most of those districts the Lavalas
candidate was leading.The results of several thousand local government
positions were not announced.'We have no totalitarian intention,'' said
Yvon Neptune, Lavalas Family spokesman. ''The Haitian people want to get
out of the rut of crisis, and we want to implement a project that will
change society. We want peace and security, so we can concentrate on the
big problems.'' Although voting was peaceful, the results seem
likely to only deepen divisions here.Gerard Pierre-Charles, the leader
of the Struggling People's Organization, the majority party until
January 1999, denounced the results as ''the implementation of a
totalitarian plan to take over every institution of the country.''
Opponents claim fear that Lavalas widely intimidated opposition
candidates in the months before the vote, rendering it unfair. They say
they will not accept the results and will boycott any runoffs.
At least 15 people were slain in political killings in the two months
leading up to the balloting. President Rene Preval, an Aristide
supporter, dissolved Parliament in January 1999 and appointed
a new premier two months later. Most opposition parties accuse Preval
and Aristide of collaborating to establish a totalitarian state.
Aristide was elected in 1990 but overthrown in a 1991 army-backed coup.
U.S. troops restored him to power in 1994, but Haitian law barred him
from seeking a consecutive term in 1995 elections. Since the invasion,
the international community has poured more than a billion dollars into
this Caribbean nation, one of the world's least developed.More than 2
million Haitian voters -- an estimated 60 percent of the electorate --
cast their ballots in the elections.Still, there were numerous alleged
irregularities.Many election stations were staffed exclusively by
Aristide partisans, opposition parties complained.They charged that
their pollwatchers were expelled from the stations because the electoral
council had only validated the identity cards of Aristide poll
workers.After the vote, ballot boxes were piled up at the central
election office and ballots spilled out in the street, making a recount
impossible.Despite the problems, both the National Council of Election
Observers and the Organization of American States Election Observation
team said the elections were acceptable.