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7128: Events in Haiti (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

(from Caribbean Insight newsletter)

(23 Feb 01)

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide told the Caricom summit in Barbados on
February 16 that he was working to solve the country's political deadlock
by setting up a new Conseil Électoral Provisioire (CEP) and responding to
criticism of election irregularities.  Caricom leaders stressed, in what
they said was "a deep and wide-ranging exchange of views" with him, that
Haiti must comply with Caricom's Charter of Civil Society if it was to
become a full member of the organisation.  
        Barbadian prime minister Owen Arthur warned that economic and
social improvement in Haiti "depends in large measure on creating
conditions for the full practice of democracy and good governance." 
Aristide said he would welcome a Caricom-OAS fact-finding mission to Haiti
and Caricom said it would open a local office in Port-au-Prince as soon as
possible and would foster contacts "at all levels" between Haitians and
"the people of the Caribbean Community."
        CEP president Ernst Mirville warned Aristide on February 19 that
"terrible things" would happen if Aristide set up a new CEP.  It would
"create conditions where every domino will fall, from the local posts to
the presidency.  It's bad to play with fire," he said.  But three CEP
members submitted their resignation and the rest were expected to shortly. 
The opposition Convergence Démocratique (CD) coalition refused on February
19 to join a new CEP on Aristide's terms.
        Five senators of the ruling Fanmi Lavalas (FL) party temporarily
withdrew from parliament on February 16 in what they said was a gesture of
"sacrifice" to help solve the political deadlock.  One of them said the
move was a signal to the opposition "to continue exploring the road to
peace."  The senate's only non-FL member, an independent, also decided to
not to participate in parliament.
        But Gérard Gourgue, who the CD has proclaimed "provisional
president," dismissed the gesture as "pure bluff" and said Aristide had not
proved he wanted to hold real negotiations.  Gourgue, who insisted his
"presidency" had been greeted with great joy by Haitians, called for new
general elections in two years time. The UN Security Council urged the
Organisation of American States (OAS) on February 13 to continue its
efforts to solve the political crisis.
        The head of the palace guard, Frantz Jean-Francois, and his deputy,
Youri Latortue, were removed on February 20 after a rebellion against them
in protest against the dismissal of several members of the guard following
Aristide's return to power.