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#4919: OAS aims to launch political dialogue in Haiti (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

WIRE:08/19/2000 14:35:00 ET
  OAS aims to launch political dialogue in Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Aug 19 (Reuters) - The Organisation of American States
(OAS) chief said on Saturday that a "political dialogue" was  needed
between Haiti"s different parties to make sure November"s  presidential
elections did not suffer the  same irregularities as May"s 
parliamentary vote. "We"re taking this opportunity, basically, to look
... at how we can strengthen, how we can preserve, (the) democratic
institutions of Haiti," OAS Secretary General Cesar Gaviria said at a
news conference at the end of a two-day visit to Haiti, the poorest
country in the hemisphere. "We are concerned that maybe (the November)
presidential elections may have the same problems that we had with the
May election. And in   general we are worried about the way the whole
 democratic process is going," he said. The fact-finding team, which
included a newly elected assistant secretary general and diplomats from
Argentina, Chile, Venezuela and the Caribbean group Caricom, arrived on
Thursday to meet with Haitian authorities, opposition parties, business
leaders and Haiti"selectoral council to discuss the country"s
electoral   woes. Haiti has been widely criticised for a May 21
legislative vote in which former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide"s
party, Lavalas Family, won  16 of 17 senate seats. Lavalas won another
two when         Grand Anse province held its delayed ballot in June.An
OAS electoral observer mission monitored the   May 21 vote, the first in
Haiti in more than three  years. But the team refused to monitor the
second         round on July 9 because it said that several senators  
who were declared winners in May in fact won less  than 50 percent of
the vote and should have been required to participate in the run-off.
Haiti has 27  senators, and the final eight senate seats will be up
for       grabs as part of the Nov. 26 ballot in which Aristide is 
widely expected to run for the presidency. The United  States, France,
Canada, and the European Union have  criticised the electoral process,
and have backed the OAS calls for a recount. Haiti has refused all calls
for a  recount, saying it had used an internationally approved tallying
method. The parliament is expected to be inaugurated on Aug. 28. The
United States led a multinational invasion of Haiti in 1994 to remove
athree-year-old military dictatorship and restore  Aristide, Haiti"s
first freely elected president, to  power. Haiti"s government has been
paralysed for  most of the past three years after parliamentary 
elections in April 1997 were declared fraudulent.   President Rene
Preval dismissed Parliament in January1999 and has since ruled by