[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

5979: AP FWD: Fear, Disillusionment Hang Over Haitian Elections , (fwd)

From: Racine125@aol.com

Fear, Disillusionment Hang Over Haitian Elections
 Sunday, November 26, 2000 

   PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Surrounded by heavily armed police, Jean-Bertrand 
Aristide got out of a car, knelt, clasped his hands in prayer and kissed the 
ground where a young boy was killed by a pipe bomb. Then his guards hustled 
him back into the car, settling him behind its black tinted windows. 
    Aristide's first public appearance since registering to run Oct. 9 took 
less than a minute Friday, two days before Haiti's presidential election. Few 
people saw the man set to return to power break his reclusive habit. 
    In an atmosphere of fear and terror as palpable as the pervasive dust 
here, Haitians are expected today to vote back into office their first freely 
elected president, the populist and charismatic former priest toppled in a 
1991 military coup and returned by a U.S. invasion in 1994. Because the 
constitution does not allow consecutive terms in office, Aristide stepped 
down in 1996. 
    His promises this time around include a far-fetched pledge to create half 
a million jobs in Haiti, where only one in three workers is employed and most 
struggle to find food. 
   But the joy and hope that accompanied Aristide's first election are 
markedly absent this time. All the major opposition parties are boycotting, 
charging that this year's legislative elections were rigged to favor 
Aristide's candidates and that Haiti is sliding back into dictatorship. 
    In what some critics call a farce of democracy, Aristide is running 
against six unknowns who, fearful of attacks, have not campaigned. Nine 
senators also will be elected. Aristide's party is expected to make a clean 
    International calls for runoff elections have gone unheeded, as have 
warnings of aid cutoffs. 
    "We won't participate in an election masquerade. . . . People who vote 
will vote for the death of democracy," opposition parties said in a radio 
   Nine pipe bombs exploded in the capital Wednesday and Thursday, killing 
two children. Bomb threats may deter voters.