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#4502: Haiti opposition group urges president to step down (fwd)


WIRE:07/03/2000 17:41:00 ET
  Haiti opposition group urges president to step down
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, July 3 (Reuters) - An opposition  party         
coalition said on Monday that Haitian  President Rene  Preval and his
government should step down and the  recent  parliamentary elections
should be held over. "We don't accept the elections, and we don't
recognise  Preval. We don't believe in him.We don't trust him," said 
Reynold Georges, leader of the Alliance for the Liberation and 
Advancement of Haiti, one of the six major opposition parties  that     
makes up the Convergence coalition. "We demand  new  elections with a
professional government."  Georges and Convergence asked Preval to
resign after  allegations that votes were miscounted in the May 21
elections.They also contend that the election results, published last
week  by Haiti's electoral council in spite of the departure of three 
members,were invalid.  The parliamentary election, Haiti's first
national vote in  more than three years, was considered a crucial step 
in  establishing a stable democracy in Haiti after decades of 
dictatorship and military rule.  But the results were questioned last
month by election monitors with the Organisation of American States,   
who said  Haiti's electoral council had miscalculated voting
percentages  for the first-round winners.  
The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), which supervised  the vote,
said it followed an internationally accepted formula  used in prior
elections and would  not recalculate the votes. Haiti's opposition
parties, along with the international community and local business
leaders, have protested the  miscalculated votes, and pressed the
Haitian government and the  CEP to reexamine them.After the publication
of election results, which yielded  a  victory for Lavalas Family, the
popular party of  former  President Jean-Bertrand Aristide,Convergence
leaders said they  would not accept the results.  Last month, all
opposition parties withdrew their candidates  from the June 22
parliamentary election in the Grand Anse  department, which voted three
weeks after Haiti's eight other  provinces, and from the nationwide
runoff election scheduled for July 9.Convergence successfully pushed for
the resignation of two  CEP workers, both of them members of the  
Espace de Concertation  party,a Convergence member.From now on, we're
going to work together and make the  unification of the political
parties a reality,"said Georges,  explaining that all opposition
candidates will run together  under the Convergence party in future
elections. "We know that  together we're going to overthrow the regime.
The regime in  question refers to Fanmi Lavalas (Lavalas Family),
Preval,Aristide, everyone." Haiti's government has been paralysed for
most of the past  three years after parliamentary elections held in   
April 1997  were declared fraudulent. President Rene Preval dissolved 
Parliament in January 1999 and has ruled by decree since.   A U.S.-led
invasion force in 1994 restored Aristide,Haiti's  first freely elected
president, after a military coup removed  him from office in 1991.