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6011: Aristide widely expected to return to power (fwd)
Partial results expected Tuesday in Haitian presidential race
Aristide widely expected to return to power
November 27, 2000 Web posted at: 1:10 p.m. EST (1810 GMT)
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Partial results from Haiti's presidential
election are expected to be reported sometime on Tuesday and it is
widely expected that former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide will regain
office, defeating a field of six virtually unknown candidates.
The campaign was marred by violence, voter apathy and an opposition
boycott of the election. Opponents said low voter turnout would make
Aristide's triumph a hollow one. The electoral council, which opponents
charge is loaded with Aristide supporters, claimed 60.5 percent of more
than 4 million registered voters who participated.
Turnout questions amidst poll attacks
Although Aristide told Haitians not to fear election violence, voting
Sunday was not without incident. At one polling place, police opened
fire on a cardboard box rather than risk letting the bomb inside claim
lives. Two explosions were reported Sunday in Port-au-Prince. In one of
the attacks a man was slightly injured.Turnout was "timid" in
Port-au-Prince according to Prime Minister Jacques-Edouard Alexis, who
supports Aristide. In Cite Soleil, one of the Port-au-Prince slums where
Aristide built his political base in the 1980s, electoral officials shut
voting stations hours early for a lack of voters.
Only three people voted during one hour in Tabarre, where Aristide lives
behind high walls. "I'm happy because I'm voting for my president," said
Jesumene Duvelglas, an unemployed mother of three in Cite Soleil. "We're
going to have a better life. The cost of living is going to get lower.
We will have security." Other Haitians were not so optimistic.
"Whether you vote or not, it doesn't make any difference," said Sauveur
Jean-Baptiste, a 70-year-old plumber. "The people we are voting for are
nothing but fat cats."
Times have changed for Aristide
The apathy was a stark contrast to the ecstatic wave of support that
first swept Aristide to power 11 years ago. Since then, a foundering
democracy has produced a squabbling tangle of political parties fighting
for power and left many as poor and hungry as ever.Aristide, Haiti's
first freely elected president, was toppled in a 1991 military
coup and restored to power after a U.S.-led invasion in 1994. Forced out
in 1996 by term limits, he handed the reins to his hand-picked
successor, Rene Preval, the incumbent in Sunday's vote.
Aristide's Lavalas Family party was expected to win the nine Senate
seats also up for grabs Sunday. In a May vote questioned by the United
States and other countries, Lavalas won 17 of 18 Senate seats and 80
percent of the House of Assembly.
Luigi Enaudi, assistant secretary-general of the Organization of
American States, warned this month that the international community
might abandon its multibillion-dollar effort to promote democracy in
Haiti if the election proceeded despite the opposition boycott.