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#2749: UN chief concerned about delay in Haiti elections (fwd)


WIRE:03/06/2000 18:16:00 ET
 UN chief concerned about delay in Haiti elections
UNITED NATIONS, March 6 (Reuters) - Secretary-General Kofi Annan
expressed concern on Monday about Haiti's decision to  delay elections
without setting a new date, and said the country  needed to hold a   
new ballot quickly, his spokesman said.  He emphasises the importance of
prompt, free and  fair  legislative and local elections for the
restoration of Haiti's  parliament and for the strengthening of Haiti's
democracy,"  U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard said.  Haiti's electoral body
announced on Friday that it was  postponing national and local elections
because of difficulties  in organising the balloting that left more    
than 1 million  eligible voters unregistered.  But it did not give a new
date for the poll, which had been  scheduled for March 19, with a
run-off vote on  April 30. The  balloting had originally been set for  
November and December.  Roland Sainristil, spokesman for the country's
electoral commission, said a new date would be set as soon as possible. 
Eckhard said "the secretary-general has noted with concern,  this
announcement by the Haitian authorities on Friday that the  legislative
and local elections would be delayed beyond the  previously scheduled   
date of March 19."  We also note that there's been no date set for the
elections," he added.  Haiti has not held elections since April 1997,
when only 5  percent of voters turned out and the results were annulled 
because of widespread fraud.President Rene Preval has been  ruling by
decree since he dissolved parliament in January 1999  in an effort to
end a paralysis in governmental functions.  The elections are to fill
10,000 empty local and  national  posts, including two-thirds of the
senate and the entire Chamber  of Deputies that make up Haiti's 
parliament. Some 29,300  candidates are running.  Annan's comments
echoed those of the U.N. Security Council,  which only hours before the
delay was announced on Friday, urged  Haiti "to hold as closely       
as possible to the current election  timetable."