René Préval’s party picks up 5 Senate seats

HAITI-ELECTIONS

Preliminary results from last week’s run-off elections in Haiti indicate that President René Preval’s party won five of 11 contests to fill open Senate seats. Five other parties won one seat each in the June 21 run-off elections, and another went to a registered independent. A twelfth seat remains vacant after voting in the April first round was canceled in the central plateau region after political violence.

The results give Préval’s Lespwa party 12 seats in the 30-member body, including the nonvoting presidency. That, as Reuters reports, could give him “a boost for planned economic reforms sought by the U.S. and other aid donors and for constitutional changes to increase presidential powers that have been limited in the wake of Haiti’s dictatorships.” There have been, however, threats from other senators to block the seating of the newly-elected senators because of the extremely low voter turnout in the run-offs and alleged fraud in April’s first round. Turnout in the latest voting was even lower than the 11 percent tallied in the first round.

Residents of Port-au-Prince cited frustration with leaders who have failed to lift them from poverty as their reason for not voting. The high level with dissatisfaction with the government Another obstacle to getting voters out was a boycott by ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party, whose candidates were barred from running.

Photo: Getty Image. Haitian men walk past an election poster for senate nominee Marie-Denise Claude on April 17, 2009 in Port-au-Prince. Senate elections will take place on April 19, 2009 in Haiti.

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