Early results show Aristide party win
Haiti elections back ex-leader
BY DON BOHNING
PORT-AU-PRINCE -- Preliminary evidence suggested Monday that former
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas Family party may be headed for a
substantial victory in Sunday's parliamentary and local elections.
Final results are not likely to be known for several days, but
and international and national election observers who monitored vote counting at
selected individual polling stations said most reflected a heavy margin for Lavalas
One local political analyst who is not pro-Aristide had predicted
would win six to nine of 19 Senate seats and 15 to 20 of the 83 seats in the lower
chamber. He upped that assessment Monday to 12 to 14 Senate seats and 50 to
60 in the lower chamber.
The new parliament is expected to be seated in July, paving the
way for Aristide's
reelection to the presidency later in the year and opening the country up to foreign
aid that has been stalled by lack of a parliament since January 1999.
``If the results I have yesterday from a dozen voting places are
throughout the country, it means Aristide is going to be the next president of Haiti
with a parliament in which he has a majority,'' said the Haitian analyst, who asked
to remain anonymous.
He added that he believed such an outcome was not the result of
fraud, but the
fact that ``the Haitian people voted overwhelmingly for [Lavalas] because they
wanted Aristide to come back. They did not vote for the candidate.''
As indications of the Lavalas victory began to emerge, so did
irregularities from opposition leaders, reinforced by the organizational disarray of
At one electoral office in downtown Port-au-Prince, poll workers
finished their tally late Sunday then dumped the ballots into the street.
Orlando Marville, a Barbados diplomat who heads an Electoral Observation
Mission for the Organization of American States, said voter tally sheets and the
voter registry remained in the offices where the ballots had been dumped.
In the island of Gonave, off Port-au-Prince, opposition parties
refused to accept
the results of Sunday's election, charging that all the polling stations were under
the control of Lavalas. In the Grand Anse department of southwestern Haiti,
elections were postponed because of a dispute over the composition of the local
provisional electoral council.
Marville said his office had unconfirmed reports of election day
violence at only 15
of more than 11,200 polling stations, most in rural areas northeast of the capital.
They included such things as armed men taking over polling stations and burning
of ballot boxes.
A minor party candidate for mayor of Port-au-Prince died Monday
clash between his supporters and those of Lavalas. The candidate, Jean-Michel
Holefen, was hit in the head by a rock. Police fired tear gas to break up the melee
in downtown Port-au-Prince.
Meanwhile, both local and foreign observers hailed the Sunday
election for its high
voter turnout and the lack of violence, despite its technical imperfections.
The turnout, said Marville, ``was very acceptable.'' He did not
yet but said ``it seemed to have been about 50 percent'' of Haiti's one million
``Haiti has surprised the world with an election that had a lesser
violence and higher level of turnout than expected,'' said Lionel Delatour, secretary
general of a private sector foundation.
Both Marville and a U.S. congressional delegation, including Rep.
D-Mich., and William Delahunt, D-Mass., praised the election day work of Haiti's
beleaguered National Police for helping to maintain the calm.
But their highest praise went to the Haitian voters.
``Though we do not presume to paint the entire picture, or draw
conclusions from our preliminary observations, we can say we saw a firm
commitment from Haiti's citizens to make these elections a success,'' the