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

#436: Haitian officials set date for elections (fwd)


Haitian officials set date for elections 
06:12 p.m Sep 07, 1999 Eastern  By Jennifer Bauduy 

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Haiti's provisional electoral
council Tuesday proposed Dec. 19 as the date for legislative and
municipal elections, the troubled Caribbean nation's first voting in
two-and-a-half years. Election officials made the announcement Tuesday
after a meeting with political parties and civic groups. The proposed 
date must be sent to President Rene Preval for approval. `New elections
are definite,'' Serge Gilles, leader of the centre left Haitian National
Progressive Revolutionary Party, told Reuters. ``This is what we hoped
for,'' said former Port-au-Prince Mayor Evans Paul, who is leader of the
Democratic Initiative Convention Party.  Haiti has been locked in a
political crisis since then-Prime Minister Rosny Smarth resigned in June
1997 and President Rene Preval's long struggle with parliament to
install a successor, which took place only after Preval declared in  
January that the terms of most members of parliament had expired.     
Many Haitians view elections as the only way to ensure the  survival of
the country's fledgling democratic institutions, which have been
established only in the five years since U.S. troops invaded Haiti to
oust a military regime and restore Jean-Bertrand Aristide, its first
freely elected president. Haitian leaders and the international
community, which has had troops and police trainers in Haiti since the
U.S. occupation  began in September 1994, have been watching closely for
the country's progress to the vote. Voting for local and legislative
posts had been expected to take place in November but was delayed for
logistic reasons. Haitian officials face a gargantuan task in preparing
for a new election. Nearly 4 million eligible voters out of the
country's 7.5  million population must be registered in time for the
vote.  Sixty percent of the population lives in rural, mountainous areas
with extremely limited access to communications links. The last
vote, in April 1997, attracted only 5 percent of eligible voters. 
``It is a tight schedule, but if there is the will from all the actors
the electoral council, the government and the political class --   it
can be done,'' Paul said.  The parliament elected in the new vote was
expected to open its session on Jan. 10, according to the proposed
calendar, but  the Provisional Electoral Council suggested a runoff
vote, if necessary, for Jan. 16.