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#4623: Aid threat to Haiti (fwd)


Friday, 14 July, 2000, 02:02 GMT 03:02 UK 
Aid threat to Haiti By Peter Greste 

 Haiti's biggest aid donors have warned that the country risks losing
their support if it does not correct flaws in recent elections. The
donors froze $500m dollars in aid early last year after President Rene
Preval suspended both the Senate and chamber of deputies and began
ruling by decree. The Haitian Government had hoped these elections would
restore an internationally acceptable elected legislature.  At a meeting
of the Organisation of American States in Washington, the OAS
Secretary-general, the United States and  Canada all warned Haiti that
the aid could remain under lock and key if the country does not correct
flaws in the first round of voting. According to the chief of the OAS
observer mission to Haiti, Orlando Marville, the electoral authorities
violated their own constitution by using a formula that wrongly gave 10
of 19 senate seats up for grabs to the Family Lavalas party.         
The results give the party almost total control over both chambers of 
government, and if as expected, the former president,Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, wins presidential elections later this year, he would be in a
very powerful position indeed. OAS Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria said
the errors in the poll were correctable and should be corrected. The   
United States representative also warned that  the international
community would find it difficult to work with a parliament elected with
a tainted process. But the Haitian Foreign Minister, Fritz Longchamp,
defended the electoral council, arguing that it was an independent body,
and he said the last thing Haiti needs is more sanctions. The country is
the poorest in the Western hemisphere. So far, the Haitian authorities 
show no sign of bending.