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6037: Doubts surface over Haiti election (fwd)
Tuesday, 28 November, 2000, 06:13 GMT
Doubts surface over Haiti election
The return of overseas aid to Haiti was thrown into doubt on Monday
after the international community expressed reservations about the
conduct of Sunday's presidential elections in Haiti.The Organisation of
American States (OAS) has complained that the election went ahead
with problems identified during legislative elections in May still not
rectified. In Washington, a State Department spokesman said low voter
turnout and pre-election violence indicated a strong need for social
reconciliation. Aid was frozen after irregularities surfaced
in May's elections and diplomats have said international recognition of
Mr Aristide's government and the resumption of aid will depend on voter
Officials estimate 68% of the electorate had taken part in the
presidential election, though this has been disputed by the opposition
which boycotted the poll - as well as by independent observers.
But there was some encouragement on Monday from the United Nations.
Spokesman Fred Eckhard said: ""We're glad [the elections] went ahead as
planned and that there was relatively little violence."
Open for dialogue'
The left wing former head of state,Jean-Bertrand Aristide is expected to
easily defeat the remaining rival candidates.In his first news
conference since the poll, Mr Aristide, a former priest, said he
was ready to talk. "We are always open for dialogue within the
framework of mutual respect," he said. "I'm convinced soon,
we will have the opportunity to address economic issues with
the international community." But opposition leaders said the election
had been a massive failure with only about 5% of the population voting.
"The election was illegitimate," said Herve Denis. "The people's
abstention means they refuse to be governed by [Aristide's party]
At least three bombs exploded in the capital,Port au Prince, within
hours of polling stations opening on Sunday.A 35-year old man was
injured in one blast,but a spate of such attacks in the past few
days has left two people dead and 17 injured. On Saturday, police
discovered four crude home-made devices in the capital. According
to the authorities, they may have been planted to deter people from
voting. The bombs, they say,are intended to persuade voters to
stay away from the polls to tarnish the legitimacy of the election.
However the opposition blames the government for the bombs.
The opposition alleges that Mr Aristide and his party have used
electoral fraud, violence and intimidation to hold on to power.
Famille Lavalas says its success reflects the fact that nobody
understands ordinary Haitians like Mr Aristide, a charismatic former
priest from the slums.