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28359: (news) Chamberlain: Haiti-Elections (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>


   PORT-AU-PRINCE, April 24 (AP) -- President-elect Rene Preval's party won
at least 11 of 30 senate seats in Haiti's parliamentary runoff, according
to partial results released late Monday, boosting his support as he seeks
to unite the divided and impoverished country.
   With 98 percent of the votes counted from Friday's election, Preval's
Lespwa party was easily beating the second-place Organization for the
People's Struggle party, which had at least four senate seats, the
Provisional Electoral Council said late Monday.
   The Fusion party was third with three seats, while the Fanmi Lavalas
party of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide had two seats. Several
smaller parties won four seats, while the races for the remaining six seats
were undecided.
   The 63-year-old agronomist still needs to form a coalition government
since neither Lespwa or rival parties have enough candidates to win a
majority in either of the country's two houses of parliament.
   Also winning a seat was the nephew of interim Haitian leader Gerard
Latortue, Youri Latortue, who represents a small party in the northwestern
Artibonite region.
   In the south, officials ordered a re-count in one department because of
a tight margin separating the candidates. In the northeast department,
which was repeating its first round of voting, no candidate won a majority,
meaning a second round will be held.
   Results for the 97 deputy seats in Haiti's lower house were not expected
until Tuesday.
   Preval, a champion of the poor and former Aristide ally, will be sworn
in May 14 and has pledged to restore security and create jobs after the
bloody revolt that toppled Aristide and plunged the impoverished and deeply
divided country deeper into despair.
   At least 1 million Haitians -- about 30 percent of the country's 3.5
million registered voters -- participated in the runoff, U.N. officials
said Monday, double the initial estimate given by some international
   David Wimhurst, a spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti,
said the turnout represented a "a big step forward" compared with past
legislative races in Haiti.
   Many voters were slow to turn up at polling stations in the early hours
of balloting, prompting the head EU election observer, Johan Van Hecke, to
call the turnout "extremely weak" and estimate participation at no more
than 15 percent.
   Speaking to reporters Monday, Van Hecke said that estimate was based on
"preliminary information," but stood by his assessment that participation
was "very low."