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Briefly

- - Monday, April 25, 2011

HAITI

Certification delayed in 19 legislative races

PORT-AU-PRINCE | Haitian officials are delaying certification of legislative election results after U.S. and U.N. diplomats questioned the victories of more than a dozen candidates.

Foreign diplomats want a public explanation for how Haiti's election commission declared victories last week for 17 Chamber of Deputies candidates and one Senate candidate.

The candidates ended up with far more votes than they had when preliminary returns were announced April 4.

In a Monday statement, the president of Haiti's election commission said the panel would hold off on publishing the results for 19 legislative races, one more than foreign diplomats had questioned. The vote was held March 20.

CANADA

Vote-splitting could benefit Conservative Party

OTTAWA | Canada's right-of-center Conservatives could win a pivotal majority government in the May 2 election because of a surge in support for a small left-leaning party that is comprehensively splitting the opposition vote.

Polls show the left-of-center New Democrats have jumped in popularity since the campaign started and are now almost level with the main opposition Liberal Party, which started the campaign in undisputed possession of second place.

Canadians seeking an alternative to Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper appear ready to divide their votes between opposition parties, ironically increasing Mr. Harper's chances of gaining a majority after he won minorities in 2006 and 2008.

"It's the left. The left is all splitting … it's all fighting over there whereas the Conservative vote is kind of standing still," said John Wright of polling firm Ipsos Reid.

"If the turnout continues the way it is, and the Liberal vote is suppressed, [Mr. Harper] has got at least a 15-seat majority right now," Mr. Wright told Reuters on Monday.

Under Canada's electoral laws, a party winning most of the 308 seats in the House of Commons would be able to govern for four years without risk of defeat.

Mr. Harper says he needs a majority to press ahead with an agenda of keeping taxes low, curbing government spending and pushing through a comprehensive anti-crime bill.

He also has vowed to kill off public financing for political parties, which would badly hurt the opposition and help solidify Conservative strength.

BRAZIL

Group: Olympics work threatens human rights

RIO DE JANEIRO | Forced evictions of slum dwellers to make way for the 2016 Olympic Games show that human rights could suffer during Brazil's preparations for the event, the head of Amnesty International said Monday.

Among other projects, Rio de Janeiro plans to build three expressways for buses that will pass through several slums, or favelas, that are home to thousands of people.

Despite Brazil's economic rise, millions of slum-dwellers still live a precarious existence in major cities and long have borne the brunt of human rights abuses.

"Our worry is that, because of the Olympics now, this thing could get scaled up very significantly," said Salil Shetty, Amnesty's secretary general, as he started a weeklong visit to the South American giant.

Authorities in recent months have begun demolitions in some slums, offering compensation for houses or new housing that residents complain is often on the distant outskirts of the city, far from their workplaces and communities.

While the number of evictions so far has been small, Mr. Shetty said the initial signs of how Rio is treating residents in the path of infrastructure projects have not been good.

"Everybody fully understands that some degree of movement might be inevitable when you're undergoing such a major project, but the issue is whether the fair process is being followed," he said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports