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5855: In Haiti, former president Aristide expected to return to , power (fwd)
Sunday, November 19 1:07 AM SGT
In Haiti, former president Aristide expected to return to power
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Nov 18 (AFP) -Little suspense surrounds next week's
presidential elections in HaitI, which are almost certain to return
former president Jean Bertrand Aristide to power for a five year term.
Of his six opponents, three have already dropped out of the race, and
none is well-known to the public.The opposition is boycotting the
November 26 vote, after three faiLed attempts by the Organization of
American States to stage a reconciliation, though its seasoned diplomat,
Luigi Enaudi.Aristide is the charismatic leader of the Lavalas movement,
in power since 1991. The current president, Rene Preval, is also
Lavalas; his term ends February 7, 2001.Aristide's Lavalas Family Party
has ample financial resources and enjoys solid support across the
country, turning the November 26 election into a mere formality.
The current stand off with the opposition dates to legislative elections
of May 21 and July 9, in which vote tabulation methods used by the
provisional electoral council were questioned both at home and abroad.
Those elections brought a landslide victory for Lavalas.
It is unknown however, the extent to which the elections will be marred
By violence, and how many voters will go to the polls.Dozens of people
have been killed or wounded here in recent weeks in violent incidents,
although it in unknown if the violence is related to the election.
Radio Haiti Inter, a private station in the capital, has reported five
people killed and three times that many injured in recent days in
Port-au-Prince.Uneasiness pervades the capital, and commercial centers
empty out in the afternoon when unknown people ride by in cars and fire
off guns, forcing people to return home and shutter their businesses.
Both the opposition and the Lavalas Family Party have denied
responsibility for such incidents.The Haitian Red Cross meanwhile has
announced that it is no longer providing ambulance service in the
evening and at night, following an attack on an ambulance driver.
It is also unclear how many people will go to the polls, though voter
turnout is key for both the opposition and Aristide, with the
international community scrutinizing the vote and threatening to reduce
aid. International organizations and governments are not sending
election monitors, but both Haitian and foreign observers will be
present, the latter sent by non-governmental organizations like Global
Exchange, a US humanitarian group based in San Francisco.Nine of 27
Senate seats are also being contested on November 26.
The United States Friday warned against Americans traveling to Haiti,
citing an "unstable security situation" there ahead of the voting.