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#4263: Protesters demand election results in Haiti (fwd)


Protesters demand election results in Haiti  By Alfredo S. Lanier
 This story ran on page A10 of the Boston Globe on 6/17/2000. 

 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Frustrated by their paralyzed democracy,
hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets of the capital yesterday,
shutting down key roads and closing businesses as they demanded final
results of the nationwide elections held almost a month ago.           
Some attributed the demonstrations to supporters of former president    
Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas Family party, and the almost         
simultaneous timing of the protests - all of them about 7 a.m. - seemed
to suggest a well-choreographed effort rather than spontaneous         
outbursts. Some demonstrators demanded not just results but an        
immediate victory for the Lavalas slate. Acrimony over the latest round
of legislative and local elections poses foreign policy problems for the
United States, rather than the beginning of improved political and
economic relations and the reestablishment of democracy.Opposition
candidates have charged massive fraud, intimidation and various other
electoral shenanigans by the Lavalas Family party. They say the
irregularities are intended to pave the way for the reelection of
Aristide as president by the end of the year, and his near          
complete control of the government.The cloud over the electoral process
puts Washington in a no-win situation. It could endorse the flawed
elections for the sake of breaking the political stalemate that has
paralyzed the country, and tacitly accept the political hegemony of the
Lavalas Family party.  Or it could reject the results, prolonging
Haiti's political crisis. A stalemate between the Lavalas party and
opposition members in parliament, and later the dissolution of the
parliament by President Rene Preval and his refusal to hold elections
for new deputies and senators for nearly 18 months, have left the
country without a functioning government for nearly three years.       
Following the American military intervention in 1994 to restore Aristide
to the presidency, the United States pumped about $2 billion into Haiti
to rebuild its policing system, as well as provide health services and 
road building programs.  But since 1997, more than $500 million in
international loans and grants has been halted by the political impasse
between the Aristide forces and the opposition. The US Congress also has
halted about $26 million in aid as a result of a trade dispute, and
foreign investment hasdwindled.