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#3222: Haiti sets new date for long-awaited elections (fwd)


WIRE:04/11/2000 20:31:00 ET
Haiti sets new date for long-awaited elections
PORT-AU-PRINCE, April 11 (Reuters) - Haiti's President Rene Preval said
on Tuesday that a new date had been set for  legislative and      
municipal elections which have been postponed  three times in recent   
months in the troubled Caribbean nation. Preval made the announcement
minutes before boarding a plane  for a gathering of developing nations 
in Cuba, and said it was  up to the nine-member provisional electoral
council (CEP) to  announce the date.  CEP official Carlo Dupiton told
Radio Metropole that  May 21  had been set for the first round, but that
a  date for run-offs  were "still being discussed."  "I don't think
there will be another delay because almost  all the conditions for
elections are united -- we   have all the  materials, we have the human
resources...," Dupiton said.  The new plan was the latest effort to set
elections on course after a series of hitches in the preparations for
polls  in Haiti, which is struggling to shake off the legacy of decades 
of dictatorships and to solidify its  democracy five years after  a U.S.
military invasion to restore political order.  Haiti's first elections
in three years had been expected in  late 1999, then scheduled for March
19. The CEP later moved the  date to April 9, but Preval refused to
approve the date.  Speaking to reporters at the airport on Tuesday as
he  headed  off to a G77 summit in Havana, Preval blamed the CEP --
which he  selected 13 months ago -- for many of the election
preparation  problems and said the body repeatedly misjudged its
readiness  for elections. Earlier this year there were weeks of protests
calling for  more registration bureaus and voter registration  cards as 
officials ran into trouble registering the country's more than  four
million eligible voters and  providing them with identity  cards on time
for the polls.  While people say I don't want to hold elections, how  
do  they explain that I signed a decree for March 19 elections, and  it
was not I, but the CEP who  postponed it -- because the CEP  always
calculated the  date wrongly," Preval said."Finally yesterday, we agreed
on a date that I hope will be  a definitive date this time," Preval
said, adding that he needed an official letter from the CEP before he
would sign a presidential decree making May 21 official.      In 1994,
the U.S. led a multinational invasion to overthrow  a three-year
military rule and restore the country's first  freely elected president,
Jean-Bertrand Aristide.