- Title: HAITI: Haitians go to the polls in second-round parliamentary elections.
- Date: 23rd April 2006
- Summary: PEOPLE SIGNING IN TO VOTE
- Embargoed: 8th May 2006 13:00
- Location: Haiti
- Country: Haiti
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVAA2S69IX3IPCD6YEK2DNKHG42
- Aspect Ratio:
- Story Text: Haitians went to the polls on Friday (April 21) as voting began in parliamentary elections that will decide if President-elect Rene Preval has enough support to govern the troubled Caribbean nation.
Polls opened on time at 6 a.m. (1000 GMT) in the capital, Port-au-Prince, with election workers in place but only a few people there to cast ballots.
Preval on Feb. 7 won Haiti's first presidential vote since former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in an armed revolt two years ago, but he will need supporters in parliament, and an ally in the prime minister that parliament will pick, in order to chart a course for the country.
Only two seats in the 99-seat Chamber of Deputies were decided in the first round of the election in February, with the rest going to the second round on Friday. All 30 Senate seats will also be decided in the runoff.
Police said some candidates who lost or were disqualified in the first round of voting planned to disrupt Friday's election. They and U.N. peacekeepers prepared to safeguard the ballot, but things remained calm throughout the day.
"I was talking to an international observer and we were both agreeing that there were some positive points. People are starting to integrate in the voting process. They are starting to believe in it despite this very important irregularity, but at least the people are starting to believe in the process itself," said the former chief of operations for the Election Commission, Patrick Fequiere.
Under Haiti's constitution, the party holding at least half the seats in parliament will pick the prime minister. Final results are not expected until April 28, but no party has enough candidates in the runoff to win the required majority.
Preval, a champion of Haiti's poor masses will be sworn in on May 14. He served as Haiti's president from 1996 to 2001.
Haiti's last parliamentary elections in 2000 were marred by a vote-tallying dispute that was never resolved, leaving the legislative body paralysed. Discord over subsequent presidential elections helped to undermine Aristide, once viewed as a champion of Haiti's fragile democracy but accused in later years of corruption and despotism.
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