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#2872: EU presidency regrets Haiti elections delay (fwd)


WIRE:03/16/2000 14:03:00 ET
 EU presidency regrets Haiti elections delay
LISBON, March 16 (Reuters) - The European Union on Thursday  said it  
regretted new delays in holding elections in Haiti,  adding that foreign
aid could only flow if all the Caribbean nation's institutions were up
and working.  A decree by Haitian President Rene Preval on Wednesday
cast  new doubts about when elections would be held, as it made no 
mention of a new date, although the country's electoral council  last
 week scheduled legislative polls for April 9.  Haiti, the poorest
nation in the Americas and trying to shake off a long history of
dictatorship, last held an  election  in April 1997, when only 5 percent
of voters  turned out and the  results were annulled because of       
widespread fraud.  "The European Union regrets that, 14 months after the
 parliament was declared closed and a year after the naming of  the
electoral council, the Haitian authorities  still do not  fulfil all
necessary conditions to guarantee free elections,"  said a statement
released in Portugal, which currently holds the  rotating EU presidency.
Polls had been slated for March 19, but were postponed over  problems
registering Haiti's more than four million voters, the  third delay in
four months.  The EU noted that Haiti's constitution required a new   
legislature to convene by the second Monday of June. "European aid can
only proceed and fully develop if all the  (Haitian) state's
constitutional bodies are working," the  statement said. Preval has been
ruling by decree since dissolving parliament  in January 1999 in an
effort to end a paralysis in the  functioning of the government.       
The delayed elections are to fill 10,000 vacant local and  national