[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

#221: Haitian council schedules elections for Nov. 28 (fwd)


Haitian council schedules elections for Nov. 28 
 07:52 p.m Jul 23, 1999 Eastern  By Jennifer Bauduy 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, July 23 (Reuters) - Haitian officials set  dates on
Friday for the country's first elections in more than two years but did
not resolve a long-standing controversy that could  prevent the vote
from taking place on schedule.  The Provisional Electoral Council set
Nov. 28 as the date for parliamentary and municipal elections and
scheduled a run-off  vote for Dec. 19 if necessary. Haiti needs to fill
19 empty Senate seats and the entire 83-member Chamber of Deputies as
well as a variety of local and municipal posts. But the authorities
ignored a bitter dispute over Haiti's last  election, in April 1997.    
In that contest, the Lavalas Family party appeared to win two        
Senate seats, although only 5 percent of eligible voters cast
ballots and rival political parties have contended that the victory 
resulted from widespread electoral fraud.Political leaders have argued
over the outcome since then. The Lavalas Family party has refused to
give up the two seats, and opposition parties have demanded that the
1997 vote be  annulled.  The U.S. government, which has pledged $10
million to $15  million in aid to pay for an election considered crucial
to the health of Haiti's fledgling democracy, said it would withhold
funds if the issue could not be resolved. ``U.S. appropriations
legislation for FY 1999 prohibits electoral assistance to Haiti in the
absence of a transparent resolution of the still-contested April 1997
elections,'' the U.S. Embassy said in a statement on Friday.         
Election officials said the election dates could not be considered     
official until it was certain that Haiti, the hemisphere's poorest
nation, had funds to pay for them. ``The calendar can't be published
until we know the date of the signings for contracts to acquire
materials. ... Each delay in acquiring materials will have an effect on
the date of elections,'' Macagoux Medard, a council member, told
reporters. The Provisional Electoral Council had proposed in June that
the 1997 result be annulled but left that suggestion out of the law   
published this week. Under Haitian law, laws must be published         
in the official journal Le Moniteur before becoming effective.        
The United States sent a force of 20,000 troops to Haiti in 1994 to end
a three-year military dictatorship and restore Haiti's first freely
elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to power. The country had
laboured under decades of dictatorship before Aristide's election in
1990 and has struggled since to establish such democratic institutions
as regular elections, a nonmilitary police force and a judicial system.