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#5118: U.S. should withdraw financial support of elections (fwd)
Published Monday, September 18, 2000, in the Miami Herald
EDITORIALS____ WARNING TO HAITI
U.S. should withdraw financial support of elections.
President Clinton's threat to cut off financial aid to Haiti is
well-justified. For months, the Haitian government has failed to heed
U.S. and international requests to end an impasse over its disputed
parliamentary elections of last May. Now it's time for Mr. Clinton to
make good those threats by withdrawing U.S. financial support to Haiti's
presidential elections, which are scheduled for Nov. 26.
The United States, United Nations, European Union, Organization of
American States and others have pleaded with the Haitian government to
resolve the impasse -- to no avail.
An OAS elections' observation group reported that the election was
flawed because of the way Senate votes were tabulated and seats awarded
before runoff elections were held. The Lavalas Family party of former
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide won 18 of the 19 Senate seats and 72 of
82 seats in the lower house. And Mr. Aristide is expected to win easily
in November although most opposition parties have vowed not to
participate in the contest. Even with a correct count, the
Lavalas Party would be victorious, but a badly defective process is
unacceptable. Withdrawing the more than $20 million in U.S. funds
earmarked for the November elections won't affect the outcome. But it
will send an unequivocal message to President Rene Preval and Mr.
Aristide that U.S. support is contingent upon adherence to democratic
processes. That message places the United States and the international
community squarely on the side of the millions of Haitian people who
risked their lives to vote in Haiti's first democratic elections in
years. The turnout verified the Haitian people's desire for democracy,
as did their close attention to the recent trial and conviction of
former Port-Au-Prince police commissioner Jean Colls Rameau and three
others in the deaths of 12 men. The trial itself, and its orderly
conduct, commendably demonstrates that the Preval government is capable
of building democratic processes. The elections were a different
matter. Early confusion about the accuracy of the vote tally led the
Clinton administration to hesitate, and this newspaper to initially
endorse the process. However, the OAS report and Haiti's own
Provisional Electoral Council subsequently documented ``serious
`BUSINESS AS USUAL'
In a speech last week at a meeting of the OAS's Permanent Council, Mr.
Clinton said it was time to stop doing ``business as usual'' with Haiti.
He's right. The United States supports Haiti with tens of millions of
dollars in aid each year and will continue to do so in direct
contributions to private groups and businesses. But it will cut off
direct aid to the government. Haiti leaves the United States no choice.
Our government cannot, and should not, support those who callously turn
a blind eye to fair