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5329 A lot of things unsettled' for Haiti vote (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

Published Sunday, October 22, 2000, in the Miami Herald 
A lot of things unsettled' for Haiti vote
 OAS official fails in latest effort to resolve growing political crisis

 A senior OAS official left Haiti on Saturday, failing in yet another
attempt to resolve a deepening political crisis but refusing to say the
effort had collapsed despite the approach of controversial Nov. 26
presidential elections. ``I'm leaving without an overall agreement, with
a lot of things unsettled but with the outlines of a new direction and
with a remarkable amount of goodwill beginning to develop,'' Luigi
Einaudi, assistant secretary general of the Organization of American
States, said Saturday in a telephone interview from
 Haiti.  ``There is a greater realism among the parties about the need
to find a democratic solution for Haiti's future,'' he said.
 Einaudi said he would report to the OAS Permanent Council in Washington
on Monday and did not rule out the prospect of returning to Haiti again.
His most recent trip, which he extended by two days, was his third to
Haiti in a month. ``I don't think it [his effort] has collapsed,'' said
Einaudi. ``That's too harsh a judgment. ``We did gather agreement around
broad principles and people are talking. A lot could happen in the next
couple of weeks.'' He did say, however, that for his return, ``the
conditions have to be very clear. I came down this time to make some
things happen. I have made some things happen, but I'm not coming down
in that spirit again.'' The ongoing crisis, stemming from disputed May
21 Senate elections, threatens the credibility of the November
presidential vote and threatens to convert Haiti into an international
pariah. The controversy pits the organized political opposition against
the government of President René Preval and the Family Lavalas party of
former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.


 Aristide is expected easily to win the Nov. 26 vote, which Haiti's
political opposition is boycotting, and return to the presidency on Feb.
7, 2001, for another five-year term. He is running against six unknown
candidates who have no political party base. A pro-Aristide electoral
council had given his candidates first-round victories in 18
 of 19 Senate seats on the ballot, despite the fact that an OAS
electoral observer mission said 10 of the seats should have gone into a
second-round runoff.
 The opposition is demanding annulment of the May 21 vote and suspension
of the new Aristide-dominated parliament seated in August.
 When he departed Saturday for Washington, Einaudi left behind a
six-point draft document entitled ``Elements of Reflection for a
National Accord.'' The document dealt with security, the May 21
elections, conditions for the Nov. 26 elections, restructuring of the
Provisional Electoral Council, measures to reinforce democracy and the
role of the international community.


 Had a comprehensive agreement been reached, it is likely that the Nov.
26 election would have been delayed until Dec. 17, but with the Feb. 7
inauguration date holding firm. There was, said Einaudi, broad agreement
on measures for improving security and reinforcement of democracy, such
as protection of freedom of expression, journalists, political parties
and society. The stickiest point still evolves on how to resolve the May
21 election dispute. The draft document called for the naming of an
independent commission to examine the election and come up with an
acceptable solution. ``'There was also a surprising amount of agreement
on what a new provisional electoral council should look like,'' said
Einaudi. And, for the first time, he said he managed to arrange five
face-to-face meetings between representatives of Aristide's party and
the opposition, with Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis
 attending as an observer.If the Nov. 26 elections go ahead as
scheduled, without opposition participation, the Clinton administration
has already said it would not financially support the
 elections or an international observer mission. In addition, all aid to
Haiti would be channeled through nongovernmental organizations. The
United States would look closely at all assistance to Haiti provided by
multilateral financial institutions.