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Aristide’s Pick Ahead In Haiti

Rene Preval, handpicked to succeed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, appeared Monday to be well on his way to the landslide victory expected of him, as the first unconfirmed and unofficial results from Sunday’s vote began trickling out.

An official tally is not expected until Dec. 27, but people close to Preval’s campaign said early figures showed him with more than four times as many votes as the nearest of his 13 competitors, a percentage even higher than Aristide received in 1990. But the dimensions of the victory may have been diminished by a low voter turnout.

Officials here declined to estimate how many of Haiti’s 3.7 million registered voters had stayed home.

“There is a tradition in this country of not voting unless it really matters,” one foreign official said.

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