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6025: U.S. Sours on Aristide (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

Tuesday November 28 2:42 AM ET
U.S. Sours on Aristide 
By GEORGE GEDDA, Associated Press Writer 

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Clinton administration praised former
Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide four years ago when he
surrendered power to an elected successor, an unprecedented event in
Haiti.But it is having nothing good to say about the
priest-turned-politician now that he appears to have been elected to a
new presidential term.The reason is administration disgust with Haiti's
refusal to address`serious irregularities'' that gave Aristide's Lavalas
Family Party a big margin in legislative elections last May, State
Department spokesman Philip Reeker said. Officials also had concerns
about Sunday's balloting, noting that all major opposition parties
boycotted the election. A statement Monday by Reeker did not mention
Aristide's name nor did it outline future prospects for U.S.-Haitian
relations. 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 turned over 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.