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#339: U.N. chief pushes new elections in Haiti... (fwd)


U.N. chief pushes new elections in Haiti, urges international donor


UNITED NATIONS (August 26, 1999 11:00 a.m. EDT ) -
 U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annanhas called on Haiti's political
parties to commit themselves to new elections in Haiti and has asked
internationaldonors to help finance it. After initially withholding
funds for the election because of doubts over whether Haiti's electoral
council would be trustworthy, the United States announced its support
last week and gave Haiti $3.5 million to pay for voter identity card. It
has pledged more than $10 million for the elections. In a report to the
Security Council on Wednesday, the secretary-general urged the electoral
council to use the expertise of the U.N. Development Program and all
other resources "to ensure that the elections will be free, fair
and transparent." "It is now essential that all of the country's
political actors commit themselves to ensuring that the forthcoming
electoral process will lead to a reinforcement of Haiti's institutions,
which will form the basis for its long-term sustainable development," he
said. Annan said all of the main parties appeared willing to participate
in the elections. Haiti has been without an effective government since
June 1997, when Premier Rosny Smarth resigned,charging that Haiti's
current President Rene Preval helped rig elections to favor supporters
of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Preval called for new
elections after dissolving Parliament in January. The nine-member
electoral council was installed in March, and election bylaws that
effectively annul the 1997 election results were made official last
month. The council has tentatively scheduled two rounds of balloting for
legislative and municipal seats, the first on Nov.28 and the second
either on Dec. 26 or Jan. 3. Noting that the electoral council faces
organizational and financial problems in meeting the voting timetable,
he urged donors to provide financial assistance as soon as possible "to
enable this important process to move forward." Haiti continues to be
plagued by crime, corruption, allegations of police brutality and an
ineffective judicial system. A 279-strong U.N. police force, which has
been in Haiti training the local police, is scheduled to leave in
November, which Annan said has raised concern in some quarters that
security might be undermined at a particularly sensitive stage. 
While he did not recommend that the U.N. force remain in Haiti,
stressing that the government must assume responsibility for the police,
the secretary-general indicated that it would be desirable to keep a
U.N. presence in the Caribbean nation.