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#3300: U.S. Welcomes Dates for Haitian Elections (fwd)


Wednesday April 19 2:46 PM ET 

 U.S. Welcomes Dates for Haitian Elections

 WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday welcomed new
dates for long-delayed elections in Haiti and said the vote ``must not
be delayed again''. Haitian President Rene Preval has officially set May
21 and June 25 for the first and second rounds of the legislative and
municipal elections, the first national vote in more than three years,
state-run television reported on Tuesday.                               
The elections, originally set for November of last year, have been
repeatedly postponed due to logistic problems registering more than four
million eligible voters and equipping them with new picture
identification cards.The State Department said: ``These dates allow
ample time to address all remaining issues associated with holding free
and fair elections, and must not be delayed again.'' ''Prompt and
credible elections ... are essential for the full establishment of
democratic institutions able to address the crucial socio-economic
problems facing Haiti,'' said a statement in the name of spokesman James
Rubin. Rubin said the United States, which sent 20,000 troops to Haiti
in 1994 to reinstall democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, would continue to support the electoral process on the
Caribbean island with technical assistance. ``At the same time, the
United States views with deepest concern the climate of insecurity that
prevails in Haiti. Acts of violence, threats and political intimidation
must end now,'' the spokesman added. Haiti's ability to hold the vote
has been sorely tested in recent months with frequent street
demonstrations, scattered violence and the slaying of Jean Dominique,
one of the nation's most popular journalists and a leading advocate for