The government Saturday closed the Dominican border and barred civilians from carrying weapons, tightening security on the eve of an attempt to hold the first democratic vote since a 1987 election-day massacre.

The army urged "calm and serenity" and said it would take whatever measures necessary to ensure a safe election Sunday.In a statement published by the state-run newspaper L'Union, the Army High Command said it reaffirmed its commitment "to do everything possible to guarantee maximum security."

In a series of security measures announced Saturday, the provisional civilian government closed the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic until Tuesday.

Officials gave no reason for the move, but there has been talk of worry about the possibility of armed mercenaries crossing the border to disrupt the election.

The government, led by President Ertha Pascal-Trouillot, also barred all private citizens not involved in the security operation from carrying weapons through Tuesday.

The government also prohibited the sale of alcoholic beverages during the election period and restricted traffic on Sunday to cars with election permits and a few bus and taxi companies.

The capital of Port-au-Prince, with an estimated 1 million inhabitants, bustled with the usual Saturday traffic congestion and shopping.

White vans flying blue-and-white United Nations flags ferried international election monitors around the city.

Police stopped cars on John Brown Avenue, the main thoroughfare, and checked for registration papers, but the security forces were mostly out of sight. No problems were reported from the countryside, and expectations of a successful election were running high.

The Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide is the apparent front-runner for the presidency.