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6007: US Kept Distance From Haiti Vote (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

Monday November 27 3:12 PM ET
US Kept Distance From Haiti Vote 
By GEORGE GEDDA, Associated Press Writer 

WASHINGTON (AP) - The United States did not send observers or
 provide electoral assistance to support presidential elections in Haiti
because authorities there had refused to address ``serious
irregularities''dating from legislative and local elections six months
ago, the State Department said Monday. A brief statement by spokesman
Philip Reeker did not mention the name of the probable winner of the
Sunday elections, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, nor did it
outline future prospects for U.S.-Haitian relations. All major
opposition parties boycotted the  balloting. Congress recently banned
any U.S. assistance from being channeled through the Haitian government,
codifying an existing situation.The administration has been treating
Haiti like a charity case lately,supporting programs run by private
voluntary organizations in health, education and agriculture.
 Reeker suggested that U.S. ties to Haiti would continue to focus on
people-to-people relations as opposed to official contacts.
``The United States will continue to engage and support the Haitian
people in pursuing our mutual interests which include strengthening
democracy, improving respect for human rights, eliminating poverty,
stemming the flow of drugs through Haiti to the United States and
addressing sources of illegal migration,'' Reeker said.
A U.S. invasion force of 20,000 helped reinstate Aristide to power in
1994, three years after he was deposed in a military coup. Although
Aristide surrendered power to an elected successor in 1996, his stock
here has fallen sharply because he is linked to electoral and other
abuses that have occurred since then.Of particular concern were the May
2000 elections, in which the United States and the Organization of
American States said there were serious procedural irregularities in
balloting for senators.``Responsibility for remedying electoral flaws
still resides with Haitian authorities,'' Reeker said. He added that low
voter turnout and  pre-election violence are strong indicators of the
need for reconciliation among all sectors of Haitian society.