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#3162: Haiti Officials Protest Vote Delay (fwd)
Friday April 7 1:09 PM ET
Haiti Officials Protest Vote Delay
By MICHAEL NORTON, Associated Press Writer
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Two high-ranking Haitian officials have
resigned to protest the government's inability to set a date for local
and parliamentary elections, an opposition coalition said Friday.
Environment Minister Yves Cadet and Jean Ronald Joseph, the labor
undersecretary at the Social Affairs Ministry, resigned earlier this
week. Recommended by the center-left opposition coalition, they had
served in those posts since March 1999. Last week, the Space for Concord
coalition asked all four of its supporters in the government to resign;
the other two - Culture Minister Jean-Robert Vaval and Population
Undersecretary Jean Andre - are close to resigning, said coalition
official Mischa Gaillard.
``The government was set up to hold elections in a nonviolent
environment. The government has not respected its commitment,'' he said.
Preval appointed Premier Jacques-Edouard Alexis by decree after shutting
down Parliament in January 1999. Preval also appointed an electoral
council, but elections have been postponed three times.
In March, Preval refused to recognize the council's authority to set a
new date. Discussions between Preval and the council, overwhelmed by
organizational difficulties, have dragged on with no new date in sight.
``No pressure, no matter where it comes from, will make (me) recipitate
the country into the trap of a badly prepared election,'' the president
wrote in a March 14 letter to the electoral council published this week
by the Haitian Press Agency, a local wire service.
The coalition's call for its candidates to resign from the government
came last week, after Alexis said his Cabinet unanimously supported
Preval's position. At least nine people have died in politically-related
killings since March 28 - including Jean Dominique, a prominent
journalist who was slain on Monday. Activists rioted in Port-au-Prince
last week to demand the resignation of the electoral council.