[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

#3079: Delay Confirmed in Haitian Elections (fwd)


Friday March 31 3:28 PM ET 
 Delay Confirmed in Haitian Elections
 By MICHAEL NORTON, Associated Press Writer 

 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Haitian officials admitted Friday that
scheduled April 9 parliamentary elections are being shelved, dealing
another blow to hopes for democracy in the hemisphere's poorest country.
 Opposition politicians claim President Rene Preval wants to postpone
the vote until December, when former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
runs for another term, so parliamentary candidates can ride his
coattails to victory and strengthen his power. Preval - the hand-picked
successor of Aristide, who is barred from consecutive terms - shut down
parliament last year after a power struggle, then appointed an electoral
council by decree. Election dates to form a new parliament were twice
postponed, and Preval refused  to approve the latest dates - April 9 and
May 21.  April 9 is ``out of the question,'' since it is unacceptable to
Preval, election council member Carlo Dupiton said Friday. At any rate,
with a mountain of logistical difficulties and periodic violence shaking
Port-au-Prince, the chances of meeting a June 12 constitutional deadline
to install a new parliament are dwindling. ``We can't speak of June
12,'' said Preval's appointed premier, Jacques-Eduoard Alexis, who
insisted this week that Haiti would hold two separate votes for
parliament and president, regardless of the date. The United States -
which intervened in Haiti in 1994 to disband a military-run regime and
restore Aristide's elected government - is pressing Haiti to meet the
election deadline. ``It's indispensable,'' Arturo Valenzuela, President
Clinton's special assistant for Inter-American affairs, said during
 a March 20 visit. Alexis bristled at such statements. ``We are not here
to defend the interests of foreign countries before those of
 our people,'' he said. With the election process in crisis, Aristide
activists demanding the election council's resignation took to
 Port-au-Prince's streets on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, stoning cars
and burning market stalls. On Tuesday, a local opposition party official
and his wife were killed in their home in the western town of
Petit-Goave. And on Thursday, a mob ransacked a Petit-Goave courthouse
to protest the questioning of Aristide partisans in the killing. Also at
stake are some $500 million in international loans for Haiti, the
Western Hemisphere's poorest nation. The loans depend on ratification by
a parliament. The European Community, meanwhile, has indicated that if a
rapid solution is not found, its aid - tens of millions of dollars a
year - would be reconsidered.