September 29, 2001

Opposition wins majority in Aruba's elections

                 ORANJESTAD, Aruba (AP) -- The main opposition party swept to power in
                 Aruba's elections Friday, marking the first time a single party has taken
                 control of the Dutch island's Parliament since the early 1980s, according to
                 preliminary results.

                 The People's Electoral Movement party won 12 seats in the 21-seat Parliament,
                 electoral officials said late Friday.

                 Turnout was high, with more than 90 percent of the Caribbean island's 56,000
                 registered voters casting ballots.

                 The results put opposition leader Nelson Oduber on firm footing to be the next
                 prime minister. His party won only nine seats in the last elections in 1997.

                 The preliminary results marked a defeat for the People's Party of Prime Minister
                 Henny Eman, which had run the last government in a coalition with the smaller
                 Aruba Liberal Organization party.

                 Although the parties of Eman and Oduber are the most popular, neither has been
                 able to garner enough support to govern alone in recent years. Aruba's last four
                 coalitions have not made it through full four-year terms. The prime minister's party
                 fell one seat short of a majority in the last elections in 1997.

                 Oduber joined protests against the privatization of the telephone company last year
                 and accuses the government of mismanaging the economy. His party won about
                 24,000 votes, according to preliminary results -- winning just enough seats to
                 clinch a majority.

                 Voters crowded outside polling places earlier in the day to choose a new
                 government. The early elections were forced by a dispute over how to manage the
                 vital tourism industry.

                 Aruba's governing coalition collapsed in June after the transportation and tourism
                 ministers of the Aruba Liberal Organization party disagreed with Eman's party over
                 how to privatize the Tourism Ministry.

                 The September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States also have created new
                 problems for Caribbean tourist businesses, which are largely dependent on
                 American visitors. Aruba's hotels are near ly empty, and U.S. airlines are flying here
                 two-thirds empty.

                 Aruba, an autonomous department of the Netherlands with about 90,000 residents,
                 plans to swear in the new 21-seat Parliament on October 30.

                  Copyright 2001 The Associated Press.