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#266: Haiti's elections law republished (fwd)


Haiti's elections law republished
July 30, 1999  Web posted at: 5:51 PM EDT (2151 GMT) 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Haiti's march towards new elections took
another confusing step Friday when another version of an electoral law
was published without the required signatures of the president, premier
and elections council. International aid for legislative and local
elections this fall depends on Haiti solving problems that sabotaged a
1997 vote and created a political crisis. The United States is
withholding at least dlrs 10 million in aid in part because an       
elections law published July 20 didn't have the required signatures and
wasn't embraced by opposition parties. The law is supposed to nullify
results of the 1997 elections that prompted then-Premier Rosny Smarth to
resign and accuse President Rene Preval of helping rig the vote for
supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. But the
signatures didn't appear Friday in a slightly reworded text distributed
in the government's national gazette. Two rounds of balloting for
legislative and municipal seats are tentatively scheduled for Nov. 28
and either Dec. 26 or Jan. 3, according to the elections council. 

Most Haitian jurists and politicians say the unsigned law is invalid.
Some  opposition politicians call it a maneuver by the government to
postpone elections until next year. Preval and his mentor, the hugely
popular Aristide, want to delay legislative and local elections until
2000, when Aristide will run for president again, said  opposition
leader Paul Denis. That way, they hope pro-Aristide candidates will    
be elected on his coattails, Denis said. "It's not the moment to create
confusion but to reassure" citizens about Haiti's political stability,
said socialist party leader Serge Gilles. Many politicians object to
calling the document a law. Constitutionally, only Parliament can pass
laws, but Preval shut down Parliament in January and appointed Premier
Jacques-Edouard Alexis and the electoral council by decree. Most
political parties have boycotted elections since 1995, claiming they
were slanted to favor Aristide supporters. Washington _ which invaded
Haiti in 1994 to disband a military regime and restore democracy --
wants broad political support for any new elections.