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5931: Sunday's flawed election in Haiti won't impel democracy (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

Sunday's flawed election in Haiti won't impel democracy 11/24/2000

Looking for an island of certainty after the inconclusive U.S.
 presidential election and corresponding market decline? Put your
money on Jean-Bertrand Aristide to win Sunday's presidential
election in Haiti. In this topsy-turvy world, it may be the only sure
thing going, if not a good thing.Mr. Aristide is a cinch to win the top
job in the Western Hemisphere's poorest country because he has no
competition. The major opposition parties are boycotting the election,
alleging that it is rigged and that, in any event, the white-hot dispute
over irregular  legislative elections in May ? when candidates of his
Fanmi Lavalas party took 90 percent of the vote ? remains unresolved. No
one has yet explained the improbable outcome to the satisfaction of
skeptical Haitian and international observers or to the opposition. In
the presidential race, the only competitors to Mr. Aristide are a
collection of nobodies. How do you say landslide in Creole?
This is what the U.S. government has bought with its more than $3
billion investment in Haiti since 1994. Then, Mr. Aristide was in the
last year of his first five-year term as president ? the second, third
and fourth years of which he spent in exile in the United States as a
 consequence of a military coup. The Clinton administration
threatened Haiti's generals with invasion unless they reinstated the
former Catholic priest and exponent of liberation theology. The
generals acquiesced, reluctantly, and the United States and other
friends of Haiti set about trying to get the Caribbean country off life
supports.In other respects, Haiti's situation remains equally dire.
Eighty percent of Haitians live in abject poverty. The environment
remains degraded. Gangland killings and political assassinations are
regular occurrences. Drug traffic is growing apace. Worse, democracy is
as distant as at any time in Haiti's bloody, woeful 197 years of
independence.Mr. Aristide surrendered power in early 1996 to Rene
Preval. But Mr. Preval is generally regarded as a figurehead. The real
power in Haiti is Mr. Aristide. Haiti desperately needs help. But the
United States and other international donors would not want to help a
government that would be widely regarded as illegitimate. Which means
that the United States should press for new presidential and legislative
elections as soon as possible. Would Mr. Aristide agree to do that which
might benefit Haiti but weaken him? That's the uncertainty.