Party of Haiti president-elect wins at least 11 of 30 senate seats in runoff |

Party of Haiti president-elect wins at least 11 of 30 senate seats in runoff

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – President-elect Rene Preval’s party won at least 11 of 30 senate seats in Haiti’s parliamentary runoff, according to partial results released late Monday, boosting his support as he seeks to unite the divided and impoverished country.With 98 percent of the votes counted from Friday’s election, Preval’s Lespwa party was easily beating the second-place Organization for the People’s Struggle party, which had at least four senate seats, the Provisional Electoral Council said late Monday.The Fusion party was third with three seats, while the Fanmi Lavalas party of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide had two seats. Several smaller parties won four seats, while the races for the remaining six seats were undecided.The 63-year-old agronomist still needs to form a coalition government since neither Lespwa or rival parties have enough candidates to win a majority in either of the country’s two houses of parliament.Also winning a seat was the nephew of interim Haitian leader Gerard Latortue, Youri Latortue, who represents a small party in the northwestern Artibonite region.In the south, officials ordered a re-count in one department because of a tight margin separating the candidates. In the northeast department, which was repeating its first round of voting, no candidate won a majority, meaning a second round will be held.Results for the 97 deputy seats in Haiti’s lower house were not expected until Tuesday.Preval, a champion of the poor and former Aristide ally, will be sworn in May 14 and has pledged to restore security and create jobs after the bloody revolt that toppled Aristide and plunged the impoverished and deeply divided country deeper into despair.At least 1 million Haitians – about 30 percent of the country’s 3.5 million registered voters – participated in the runoff, U.N. officials said Monday, double the initial estimate given by some international observers.David Wimhurst, a spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti, said the turnout represented a “a big step forward” compared with past legislative races in Haiti.Many voters were slow to turn up at polling stations in the early hours of balloting, prompting the head EU election observer, Johan Van Hecke, to call the turnout “extremely weak” and estimate participation at no more than 15 percent.Speaking to reporters Monday, Van Hecke said that estimate was based on “preliminary information,” but stood by his assessment that participation was “very low.”

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