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28096: Craig (news) Haiti to Hold Legislative Run-Off Next Month (fwd)

From: Dan Craig

March 10, 2006

Haiti to Hold Legislative Run - Off Next Month
Filed at 7:44 p.m. ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - A run-off to choose a new legislative assembly in Haiti will take place next month, paving the way for President-elect Rene Preval to be sworn in, authorities said on Friday.

The president of the troubled Caribbean country's electoral council, Max Mathurin, told Reuters the run-off would be held on April 23 and promised to correct technical problems encountered during the first round in February.

The run-off for Senate and lower chamber seats had initially been planned for March 19 but was delayed for unexplained reasons. That postponed the installation of Haiti's first elected government since former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in 2004.

``The April 23 date has been communicated to the government but it will be official only after publication by the executive branch,'' said Mathurin.

Francois Benoit, a member of the electoral council, said the government could announce the date as early as this weekend.

The party that holds a majority in parliament will pick a prime minister and form a government. No party seems likely to obtain an outright majority but Preval, a one-time protege of Aristide, has been meeting candidates and politicians from other parties in hopes of building a governing coalition.

Preval was declared president following the first round of last month's general election, after fears of violence and widespread suspicions of vote fraud prompted electoral authorities to change the way they counted blank ballots. The change gave him just over 50 percent of the votes.

Preval's inauguration was initially set for March 29 but was postponed because of the need to elect the legislative assembly that administers the oath of office. Sources close to the interim government said on Friday that Preval could be sworn in during the first week of May.