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#4309: Haiti Releases Election Results (fwd)
Tuesday June 20 10:07 AM ET Haiti Releases Election Results
By MICHAEL NORTON, Associated Press Writer
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Pressured by violent, fiery protests that
paralyzed Haiti's three biggest cities, the country's Elections Council
released election results that give former President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide's party control of the Senate.The council move Monday came
after hours of unrest in Haiti's cities. Pro-Aristide demonstrators
blocked streets and set a fire outside the U.S. Embassy to demand the
results, which still had not been released a month after the election.
The council said Aristide candidates won 16 of 17 Senate seats
contested in the May 21 balloting. But those results have been
challenged by the international community and the council president, who
fled the country in fear of his life over the weekend. Hours
before they were released, the United States demanded an honest count
of ballots cast in the elections, which are crucial to restoring some
$500 million in suspended international aid. The Elections Council also
said it was postponing the second round of elections
scheduled for Sunday but gave no date. The second vote is being held
for the top two contenders in races where no candidate won a majority.
Opposition leaders have threatened to boycott, charging the count was
fixed to give Aristide a victory that would set Haiti on the road to a
virtual one-party state.Monday's Senate results were signed by six
remaining council members - minus the president and two members who
resigned Thursday.Earlier in the day, the council president, Leon
Manus, told a radio station that he refused to give in to pressure from
President Rene Preval to sign off on incorrect results giving
Aristide candidates 16 Senate seats. Manus said Aristide candidates won
only seven seats, Radio Galaxie reported from the United States, where
Manus fled. The dispute over the results comes down to the method
Haitian officials used to count the votes.
Under Haitian law, candidates must win a majority to avoid a second
round of voting. But officials counted the votes of only the top four
contenders and not the others who ran and may have gotten a few votes.
Those missing votes created an erroneous winning percentage count,
observers say, giving at least eight of 16 Senate seats to Aristide
candidates who otherwise would have to face a second round.
The United States, United Nations and Organization of American States
have challenged the vote-counting process. In Washington, D.C., State
Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the United States wants the
Haitian government to complete the vote count ``in accordance with the
precepts of the Haitian constitution and the electoral law.'' But
Aristide supporters were anxious for the results to be released. In
Port-au-Prince on Monday, protesters stoned vehicles and set tire
barricades ablaze. They blocked the capital's main arteries with hulks
of vehicles, junked refrigerators and large rocks. Shops and schools
stayed shut. Protesters also reportedly paralyzed Cap-Haitien and
Gonaives, Haiti's second- and third-largest cities. Outside the U.S.
Embassy in Port-au-Prince, demonstrators set a large pile of debris on
fire and chanted anti-American slogans. Haitian police watched but did
not intervene. The protesters then moved to the nearby United Nations
Plaza, where they lowered an American flag and tried to set it ablaze
before police grabbed the flag. Still to be announced are results for 83
seats in Parliament's House of Deputies. Preliminary results gave
Aristide candidates 23 seats.