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The BBC's Peter Greste
"On Sunday Haitians defied the critics by turning out in massive numbers"
 real 28k

Monday, 22 May, 2000, 17:58 GMT 18:58 UK
Haiti poll fraud allegations
Haitian vote counting gets under way by candlelight
Counting by candlelight: An official studies ballot papers
The opposition in Haiti has accused the leading pro-government party of widescale election fraud.

Gerard Pierre Charles told local radio that members of the pro-government party, Family Lavalas, were the only ones in control of certain polling stations.
Voters hold cards
Long queues formed at most polling stations

He said that Lavalas supporters had forced opposition representatives out of some polling stations and that thousands of ballot papers had been released days in advance of the vote.

The provisional electoral council, which organised last Sunday's poll, is investigating the allegations but so far it insists that things are going well.

A painstaking counting of the vote has continued. Late on Sunday officials started counting ballot papers by candlelight after a high turnout in the local and parliamentary elections.

In thousands of electoral offices across the country officials read out each and every ballot and held it up for the crowd to view before moving on to the next.

Frozen aid

The Organization of American States (OAS) estimated that between 50% and 60% of the nation's four million-plus registered voters cast their ballots.

Opposition politicians had warned of possible violence, but reports from across the country said there were no serious incidents.
Preval voting
President Preval votes

The results will not be known for several days, as an estimated 29,490 candidates compete for 7,625 posts in the legislature, mayoral commissions, and local and rural councils.

Run-off elections are scheduled on 25 June for legislative contests in which no candidate wins more than 50% of votes.

The election was postponed three times in seven months before the international observers and the local electoral commission said it could go ahead.

If the observers rule that the ballot has been free and fair, Haiti will have its first functioning government in three years and gain access to millions of dollars in frozen foreign aid.

The BBC's Peter Greste in Port-au-Prince says this time around Haitians seem determine to use their ballot to end the political chaos that has crippled the country for the past three years.

Pre-poll violence

Reports from some parts of the country said almost every eligible Haitian cast their ballot - a remarkable result given that the participation rate was less than 10% in the previous election.

A wave of pre-election violence left at least 12 political figures dead, 11 of them linked to the opposition.

Violent demonstrations destroyed shops, businesses and an opposition party headquarters.

Political analysts in Haiti said it was aimed at either forcing the electoral commission to cancel the vote or frightening off would-be voters to clear the way for fraud.

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See also:

09 May 00 | Americas
Haiti goes to the polls
06 Apr 00 | Americas
UN Haiti mission in peril
01 Apr 00 | Americas
Haiti postpones elections
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