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#4988: US: Haitian Parliament Not Legitimate (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

Wednesday August 30 2:51 PM ET
 US: Haitian Parliament Not Legitimate?
 WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States said on Wednesday the
 legitimacy of the newly elected Haitian parliament was in doubt because
of the electoral disputes still pending when it held its first session
onMonday. Nineteen senators and 82 members of the Chamber of Deputies,
the lower house in the bicameral parliament, were sworn in on Monday
despite complaints that the impoverished Caribbean nation's recent
elections were tainted. A State Department official said: ``It is our
view that Haiti's parliament has been prematurely seated, which calls
into question the legitimacy of the new legislature.``We are continuing
to work with the Organization of American States (OAS) and others in
pressing  Haiti to resolve its electoral impasse,'' added the official,
who declined to be named. The May 21 elections, the first national vote
in more than three years, were considered a crucial step in          
Haiti's efforts to build a stable democracy after decades of
dictatorship and military rule. But the process turned sour when
international observers deemed the vote counting process flawed.
  Critics said election officials miscalculated the winning percentages
of 10 senatorial candidates, giving them outright first-round victories
when they should have been forced into runoffs and handing President
Rene Preval's ruling Lavalas Family party a more decisive win than it
was due. The OAS, which monitored the first-round vote, called for a
recalculation but Haitian authorities refused and published election
results in the official gazette.The State Department official said the
United States expected the OAS to hold a permanent council
 meeting, maybe as early as Sept. 5, to discuss the report of the OAS
observer mission. In the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, Donald
Steinberg, a U.S State Department official who was ending a three-day
visit on Wednesday, said Washington sought a dialogue to resolve the
election  issues.``Our goal is to encourage Haitians to engage in a
dialogue on two issues cited in the Aug. 4 declaration  of the OAS, and
that is: to address the irregularities that followed the May 21
elections and to find means  of strengthening democracy in the future,''
he told Reuters.Steinberg, special coordinator for the State
Department's Haiti working group met during his visit with Preval,
former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and other political party
leaders.He said he had found willingness to talk but added ``the notion
of what that dialogue encompasses is different.''