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#206: Haiti approves new elections (fwd)


Haiti approves new elections  08:41 p.m Jul 20, 1999 Eastern 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, July 20 (Reuters) - Haitian President Rene Preval and an
independent electoral panel have approved a law calling for elections to
fill empty parliament seats, the official Le Moniteur publication said
on Tuesday.  While the decree stopped short of formally annulling
disputed 1997 election results, it could resolve a political stalemate
that has held up hundreds of millions of dollars in badly needed aid. 
The battle began when an April 6, 1997 vote was declared fraudulent by
international and national observers. The two senators elected that day
have never been sworn in. Preval has ruled by decree since January, when
he announced that legislative terms had ended and effectively closed
congress. The president signed the electoral decree on Friday, but it
was not made public until Tuesday. Even before the latest announcement,
new elections were tentatively scheduled for November and December.   
``We believe that having these elections this year is the necessary path
to bringing the country to a minimal state of normalcy,'' said Guy
Alexandre, Haiti's former ambassador to the Dominican Republic. 
The new election law, drafted by a nine-member independent electoral
council, states the election will fill all empty Senate posts and all 83
seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Deputies serve four-year terms, and
all of their terms have expired. There are eight sitting senators and 19
empty Senate seats. Depending on their status, Senate terms can vary. 
In the election, voters will also choose mayors and fill local assembly