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7010: Events in Haiti (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

(from Caribbean Insight newsletter)

(9 Feb 01)  (but clearly written before the inauguration) 

Leaders of the opposition Convergence Democratique (CD) declared Gerard
Gourgue the country`s "provisional president" on February 6 after
negotiations broke down with President-elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his
Fanmi Lavalas  (FL) for an opposition role in his government, which took
office the following day.  Gourgue, 75, was the center-left candidate in
the aborted 1987 presidential election.
        The FL had rejected a CD list of 17 demands, notably one for a
three-member council to rule the country for two years that would include
Aristide, a prime minister from the opposition and a member named by civil
society, whose leaders have been trying the mediate in the deadlock. 
Parliament would be dissolved pending new elections.  There would also be a
counter-balancing consultative council comprising civil society leaders and
opposition members.  
        Aristide had finally yielded to the opposition`s demands that he
attend the negotiations in person when he met CD leaders on February 3 at
the Vatican embassy.  But he stuck to the eight-point list of reform
commitments extracted from him in December by US envoys.  The CD then
offered to accept Aristide as president but with a mandate of only two
years.  The talks then broke down and one CD leader, Evans Paul, called for
demonstrations in front of the presidential palace during the February 7
        "We have compromised enough," said FL spokesman Yvon Neptune.  But
US ambassador Brian Curran blamed "lack of flexibility" on both sides and
said a provisional government "does not advance prospects for dialogue or a
solution of the political crisis."  The US and Haiti could not have "a
normal relationship" until "problems with last May`s legislative elections
are resolved," he said.  
        Dominican President Hipolito Mejia, the only head of state
scheduled to attend to ceremonies, withdrew at the last minute, citing
security problems in Haiti.  The US declined to send an official
delegation, apart from its ambassador.  The European Union announced on
January 29 it was suspending $49 million in aid and $17.7 million in
budgetary support for Haiti "because respect for democratic principles has
not been re-established" in connection with election irregularities.
        Pro-Aristide senators threatened on January 30 to summon or dismiss
Judge Claudy Gassant, who is investigating last April`s assassination of
leading journalist Jean Dominique, on grounds that he was "trying to
discredit" Sen. Dany Toussaint, who is expected to be named Aristide`s
police chief.  Toussaint, who was criticized by Dominique, has refused to
be questioned by Judge Gassant, citing his parliamentary immunity.  
        The radio station Dominique ran, Haiti Inter, now run by his widow 
Michele Montas, suspended broadcasts on February 3 for three days in
protest against the "deliberate and arbitrary attempts" by the senate to
obstruct an inquiry into Dominique`s death.  Toussaint`s lawyer,
Jean-Claude Nord, has spoken of his client as "a possible successor" to
Aristide.  Two judges declined to head the investigation before Gassant
accepted the assignment and a suspect arrested in the case had allegedly
killed himself in police custody.
        About 7,500 illegal Haitian immigrants have been deported to Haiti
over the past month from the Dominican Republic, according to the Dominican