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6921: U.S. says it won't send official delegation for Aristide inauguration (fwd)

From: Stanley Lucas <slucas@iri.org>

U.S. says it won't send official delegation for Aristide inauguration
U.S. Deals Blow to Aristide
By PAISLEY DODDS, Associated Press Writer 			February 6,

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - The new U.S. ambassador to Haiti says he will
be the only person representing the United States at Jean-Bertrand
Aristide's inauguration, adding that the two countries can't have a normal
relationship until an elections impasse is resolved. 
In one of the first interviews since he arrived last month as U.S.
ambassador to Haiti, Brian Dean Curran said Monday the United States would
not send an official delegation to Aristide's inauguration on Wednesday 
The announcement comes as another blow to Aristide, who is desperately
searching for support now that questionable results from May parliamentary
elections have left the international community second-guessing his
legitimacy and threatening to withhold aid. 
International leaders questioned the May results after Aristide's Lavalas
Family party won 80 percent of local and legislative offices. The
Organization of American States found flaws in how the winning percentages
for the Senate were calculated and said 10 Senate seats won by Aristide
candidates should have gone to a second round vote. 
"We can't have a normal relationship with the government until problems with
the May elections are resolved," Curran told reporters at his residence
outside the capital. 
Lavalas held talks with Haiti's opposition for a second day Monday, seeking
to keep the impoverished country from descending further into disorder. If
the talks fall through, the opposition alliance - dubbed "Convergence" -
plans to announce its own alternative government. 
U.S. Republicans have called Aristide's Nov. 26 election undemocratic, and
on Jan. 29, the European Union decided to block $49 million in aid to Haiti.
Some $17.7 million, intended to help cover the country's budget deficit,
also was suspended. 
Aristide has offered to rectify the election results, include opposition
figures in his government, and appoint a new electoral council. 
But the opposition has rejected his offers, saying last year's elections
should be nullified and general elections held within a year. 
"The United States has an important interest in this region," Curran said.
"We have historical ties. They're our neighbors, so we must stay engaged in
the political process." 
The Bush administration has not outlined its foreign policy aspirations with
Haiti, but Curran said that he wanted to see the United States involved in
Haiti's social and economic development, its programs to stop illegal
migration and its work against drugs. 
"Because of weakened institutions and the inability to confront drug
traffickers, the drug problem is a much bigger threat to Haiti than to the
United States," said Curran, previously the ambassador to Mozambique.
"That's why we have to work together." 
Aristide first won the presidency in a landslide electoral victory in 1990.
The army ousted him in September 1991, and a U.S. military invasion three
years later restored him to power. 
Constitutionally barred from running for a consecutive five-year term,
Aristide stepped down in 1996 and handed power to his chosen successor, Rene
Casting further doubt on Haiti's future, the United Nations will close its
troubled, yearlong democracy-building mission to the Caribbean nation this
U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard acknowledged Monday that the mission had
struggled since its inception last March, but said that in the end,
"considerable" progress had been achieved in helping to improve Haiti's
judiciary, promote human rights and encourage foreign aid.