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#5982L Albright, Ministers Meet about Haiti. (fwd)
Albright, Ministers Meet about Haiti
.c The Associated Press
By BARRY SCHWEID
UNITED NATIONS (AP) - Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met Wednesday
with diplomats from Argentina, Canada, Chile, France and Venezuela to
pressure Haiti to strengthen democratic procedures in advance of presidential
and legislative elections in November.
The Clinton administration already has vowed to impose economic sanctions on
Haiti if it does not change its ways.
The group convened by Albright calls itself ``Friends of Haiti.'' Meeting
with her were Foreign Ministers Lloyd Axworthy of Canada and Soledad Alvear
of Chile. High-ranking Argentine, French and Venezuelan diplomats attended,
Last week, Luis Lauredo, U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American
States, accused Haitian authorities of an unwillingness to address the
``serious irregularities and deficiencies'' that he said were evident during
parliamentary runoff elections in May.
The runoff, along with balloting in June and July, resulted in overwhelming
victories for the Lavalas Family party of former President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, who is expected to win re-election to the presidency in November.
``In the absence of meaningful change,'' Lauredo said, ``the United States
will not support the presidential and legislative elections of Nov. 26,
financially or through observer missions,'' he said.
Lauredo said the U.S. government would send nearly all bilateral assistance
to the people of Haiti through private and nongovernmental organizations,
thus bypassing the Haitian government.
A former Haitian senator, Paul Denis, of the former parliamentary minority
Struggling People's Organization, hailed ``the evolution'' of the U.S.
position and said it would support the struggle of the Haitian people against
a government that wants to establish a dictatorship.
Albright, in what was her last official speech to the United Nations, said
Tuesday ``democracy is the one road we can all walk down together.''
She also pledged ``to serve the cause of international progress and
individual liberty not only for as long as I am in office, but for as long as
I am alive.''