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#5360: Haiti considers postponing presidential vote (fwd)
Haiti considers postponing presidential vote
By Trenton Daniel
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Haiti's government has indicated it might
postpone a presidential election set for Nov. 26 which the opposition, upset
over tainted parliamentary polls earlier this year, has threatened to
"The government is ready to agree with any accord if it agrees with the
Haitian constitution and law," Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis said on
Thursday night after meeting with a delegation from the Organisation of
American States (OAS).
"But no matter what, we must have a new president by Feb. 7." If there's a
political agreement, the government will work with the CEP (Provisional
Electoral Council) to schedule a new date for the presidential elections."
The election is scheduled for Nov. 26, with a runoff set for Dec. 17, and
Haiti's constitution mandates that a transfer of power take place on Feb. 7.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti's first democratically elected president,
registered for the presidency last week and is virtually guaranteed to win.
Aristide, ousted by a military coup seven months after taking office, was
reinstated by a U.S.-led invasion in 1994, and was constitutionally barred
from running for two consecutive terms. His protege Rene Preval has led the
Caribbean nation of 8 million people since 1996.
An OAS delegation came to Haiti a week ago to reach a solution over the
parliamentary elections in May and June. The international community contends
10 senate seats should have been forced to a runoff after no candidate won an
The OAS brought together Aristide's majority party Lavalas Family and the
opposition coalition Group de Convergence in the first face-to-face dialogue
since the vote.
Convergence has called for results from the parliamentary elections -- a
landslide for Lavalas -- to be reexamined and the organisation of a new CEP
to oversee the presidential vote.
"We have some problems before that," Ariel Henry, a member of Group de
Convergence, told Reuters after the OAS meeting. "It's obvious that Nov. 26
elections will not work."
The devolvement came amid a background of unrest in Haiti, the poorest nation
in the Americas and with a history of dictatorship and military rule.
Eight high-ranking police officers were arrested this week in what officials
called an alleged coup plot. Six were detained by the Dominican military at
Haiti's request after fleeing to the neighbouring Dominican Republic and two
officers were arrested on Wednesday in the capital, Port-au-Prince.
Neither Alexis nor Preval provided details on what the alleged plot involved
and there were no reports of violence against government officials or
Haiti's civilian police force was created after its army was disbanded in
1991 for its role in the military coup that ousted Aristide, a former Roman
Catholic priest with a popular agenda for more social justice.
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