PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI, JAN. 18 -- Opposition groups continued today to denounce yesterday's elections while the electoral board declared them a success. In contrast with the previous effort, no violence was reported.

Despite a low turnout, widespread confusion at the polls and frequent voting fraud witnessed by foreign and Haitian journalists, Haiti's Army-led government appeared poised to name one of the conservative candidates as president. Diplomats and opposition figures have expressed worries that the Army simply would name a president whom it would then seek to control as a way of maintaining its effective political power.

{In Ottawa, Canadian External Affairs Minister Joe Clark said the low voter turnout "was a clear indication by the Haitian people that the election was not a true democratic process" and said his government will not accept the outcome, Reuter reported.}

Haiti's government-appointed electoral board counted votes through the night and today, but barred journalists and election observers. Piecemeal results announced over a private radio station gave little sense of who was winning the presidential race.

Disgruntled candidates in, and opponents of, the election claimed that the Army had intervened in favor of Leslie Manigat, 57, a former political science professor. He said in an interview today that his monitoring of the results announced by radio showed him with a slight lead, but that the percentage of votes counted was "not significant."

One opposition activist, Eddy Volel, an aide to Christian Democratic leader and ex-presidential candidate Sylvio Claude, called the election "a sorry defeat" for the opposition. "It's a tradition in Haiti that whoever has the guns has the final word against the will of the people." Claude was a contestant in the November presidential election that collapsed in violence in which at least 34 persons, many of them voters, were killed.

The government, by carrying off the elections without either strong protests in the streets or from foreign governments, appears to have left centrist and leftist dissidents casting for a strategy. Before the election, Marc Bazin, one of four centrist ex-candidates who this time led a boycott, said that under the government about to be installed, "if there is a democratic space that allows us to express ourselves, we'll occupy that space . . . . We want to play by the rules of democracy but we'll adapt ourselves to the conditions of the moment."

But neutral political observers here have said that poor Haitians, who must form the ranks of any mass protest, have grown tired of years of demonstrations and strikes that began in 1985 and forced dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier from power.

Volel recalled that for the past six weeks, opposition leaders "have told people to stand at the barricades until the {ruling council} left power. But the Haitian people were like zombies."

The opposition also is hampered by disunity and weak political institutions and by the Army's willingness to use force in putting down truly threatening protests.

"People are resigned, discouraged," said the Rev. Emile Gloaguen, a French priest in a Roman Catholic parish north of here. "They have done everything possible for two years to emerge from dictatorship.

"Today is the opposite of {Duvalier's departure}. Today, Haiti falls back under dictatorship."

An electoral board spokesman last night proclaimed the vote a success and dismissed irregularities witnessed by journalists -- including unsealed ballot boxes, lapses in identity checks of voters and voting by children -- as not enough to affect overall results.

Manigat agreed, saying that foreign journalists have spread "disinformation to the point of intoxification" about Haiti and its elections. Asked if there was a danger of his serving as a figurehead president for the Army, Manigat said, "All the foreign journalists ask the same question." The Army's and president's relationship should be "the relationship dictated by the constitution -- it's as simple as that."

Manigat is a French-educated political scientist who went into exile a few years after Francois Duvalier, the father of Jean-Claude, came to power. Manigat taught in Venezuela for many years and was linked to the Socialist International, but he is seen by observers as having swung to the political right. "The Army is an important political institution in Haiti," Manigat said. "Without the Army, there is no viable political solution to the Haitian question. So, it's necessary to have a dialogue with the Army."

Opposition figures continued to criticize U.S. policy toward Haiti. The administration expressed reservations about the way the election was to have been conducted but had no comment today. Opposition figures said it did not do enough to press the government of Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy into assuring free elections.