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Published Friday, April 14, 2000, in the Miami Herald 

 Leaders must create the appropriate climate to encourage voters to be
part of the process. There appears to be a ray of hope in Haiti's
protracted electoral crisis, as President Rene Preval and the electoral
council now have agreed on a May 21 date for the first round of
municipal and legislative elections.That's a step in the right
direction. The United States and other nations with an interest in
seeing democracy take root in Haiti have agreed to provide the
 additional resources that would help those elections take place as
scheduled. Now it is up to the Haitian leadership to do its part by
creating the appropriate climate to encourage candidates and voters to
participate fully in the process. It will take a lot of hard work to
re-create an electoral climate that has been violently disrupted by the
assassination of a well-known journalist and the sacking of an
opposition political party's headquarters. But that work must be done
 because the international community will not stomach another delay.
Neither should the Haitian people, who stand to suffer the most once
again. The goal of those elections is to set up a new Parliament by June
12. Without the May 21 vote, President Preval has the right under
Haiti's constitution to call in the old legislature and dictate what
those members will discuss. That's not democracy. Haiti has not had a
Parliament since January 1999, when Mr. Preval shut it down after an
18-month power struggle with the opposition. He appointed a new premier
 and the electoral council by decree in March 1999. Elections have not
been held since a 1997 vote that the opposition charged was rigged to
pack Parliament with allies of Mr. Preval and former President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who is widely favored to win the next
presidential election in September. Opponents of Messrs. Preval and
Aristide suspected that the pair were working in tandem to combine the
parliamentary and presidential elections. That would benefit the latter
because his coattails are likely to pull his supporters into Parliament,
giving him a chokehold on power. Mr. Aristide, however, denies that and
two weeks ago called for immediate parliamentary elections. That would
seem to end the stalemate between Mr. Preval and the electoral council.
It is now important that the Haitian leadership insist that the
parliament that comes in through the May 21 vote has full constitutional
powers with authority to deal with all issues, not a circumscribed
body.  No one should accept any less, neither Haitians nor the
international community that's prepared to isolate Haiti diplomatically
and financially if that happens. Were that to be, the real losers will
be the long-suffering Haitian people.