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#4868: Political turmoil said to hamper UN Haiti mission (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

WIRE:08/09/2000 17:52:00 ET
  Political turmoil said to hamper  UN Haiti mission
 UNITED NATIONS, Aug 9 (Reuters) - A climate of political turmoil and  
intolerance threatens the ability of a  U.N. civilian mission in Haiti
to  support that country"s fledgling democratic institutions,          
Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on  Wednesday. It had been hoped
that,  by holding elections recognised as free, fair and credible, Haiti
would resolve a political crisis which had left the country without a
parliament for 18 months and without a constitutionally  established
government for three years, he said. "Unfortunately, events turned out
otherwise," he added, in a report on the activities of the
International  Civilian Support Mission in Haiti (MICAH), which  was
established by the General Assembly last December and began functioning
in March. The role of MICAH, successor to a number of earlier U.N.
missions in the impoverished Caribbean country, is to provide expertise
and assistance mainly in the areas of justice, human rights and police.
"MICAH"s capacity  to support Haiti"s fledgling democratic institutions
risks  being jeopardised by the current climate of political turmoil and
intolerance, which exposes those institutions to pressures and threats,"
Annan wrote. He  said it was cause for optimism that some four million 
Haitians chose to acquire voter registration cards and  more than 50
percent of them chose to vote in the first  round. Despite concerns
about security, there was a large turnout for the May 21, 2000, polling
and little violence, he said. "Yet the electoral process overall 
unfortunately was marred by a climate of violence and intimidation, poor
organisation and disregard for the electoral law in the calculation of
the Senate results," Annan said. The major opposition parties alleged
there  had been massive fraud and refused to participate in any second
round. "The outcome has been a deepening of the political crisis,
increased tension and  violence and the possible installation of a
Senate  which -- if the crucial calculation question is not  addressed
-- would cast a shadow over the Parliament"s democratic legitimacy and
thereby threaten the early resumption of much-needed  international
financial assistance for the people of  Haiti," the U.N. chief said.
Listing other "disturbing  developments," he said the rule of law had
suffered "as a result of the passivity or even complicity of some police
and judicial authorities in the face of violent  demonstrations by
members of so-called popular organisations" which targeted opposition
parties, journalists and the general population. "The reliance on street
violence to impose objectives at every crucial juncture in the political
process has set  dangerous precedents that bode ill for the future," he 
added. Developments related to the Haitian National Police (HNP) were
"also a cause for increasing concern." While it performed admirably
during elections on May 21, "events in the aftermath of the  voting
suggest a partisan use of HNP and rising  politicization," he said. "The
police failed to step in to stop acts of mob violence, and appear to
have lent themselves to a campaign against the opposition in  which some
30 activists and candidates were  detained," Annan said.