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#3156: Haitis downward spiral (fwd)


Haiti’s downward spiral ---THE ECONOMIST_ April 6 2000   

NOBODY knows who sent the gunmen who shot dead Jean Léopold Dominique,
Haiti’s best-known radio journalist, as he turned up for his morning
news broadcast on April 3rd. The director and owner of Radio Haiti
Inter, a fighter for free speech under the dictatorship of Jean-Claude
“Baby Doc” Duvalier, Mr Dominique was close to both President René
Préval and  Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Mr Préval’s predecessor and         
political godfather. His acerbic views had made him enemies across the
political spectrum. Recently, he had criticised supporters of Mr
Aristide for strong-arm tactics.His murder was only the latest, and most
prominent, in a wave of violence that seems to worsen with
everypostponement of Haiti’s long-overdue parliamentary and local
elections. Because of political deadlock between Mr Préval and the
opposition, there has been  no legislature since January 1999, and hence
very little government; much foreign aid is frozen until a budget      
can be passed. The most recent election date was March 19th. A few days
before it, the electoral commission set a new date of April 9th, but Mr
Préval  simply rejected it.  Mr Préval says there are logistical
problems, but many  suspect that the delays are intentional. Under the  
constitution, if a new parliament is not installed by June 12th, it must
wait until January to start work. In December, Mr Aristide will again
run for, and probably win, the presidency. If other elections are held
at the same time, his popular support will give his candidates    an
advantage.  But since every post except Mr Préval’s has lapsed, lawand
order are breaking down. The United States and the UN have called for
elections, however imperfect,before the June deadline. Unless they wield
something stronger than words, Haiti’s descent into chaos will