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#4842: U.N. losing patience with Haiti over vote (fwd)




From: nozier@tradewind.net

Published Friday, August 11, 2000, in the Miami Herald 
 U.N. losing patience with Haiti over vote BY DON BOHNING 

 U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has accused Haitian officials of
flouting the international community and local Haitian organizations by
refusing to concede flaws in the recent Senate elections and warned that
the legitimacy of any parliament seated as a result would be in
question. ``The decision of the electoral authorities, supported by the
government and the ruling Fanmi Lavalas party [of former President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide], to stand by the erroneous Senate results is
cause for serious concern,'' Annan noted in a report to the U.N. General
Assembly made available Wednesday. ``In doing so,'' added Annan,
``Haitian authorities flouted the views'' of a range of international
organizations, among them the United Nations, Organization of
 American States, and a grouping of Francophone countries, as well as
domestic electoral monitors and Haitian civil society.

 STRONG COMMENTS

 The secretary-general's comments were regarded as unusually strong by
U.N. observers, who say that patience with Haiti is running out. And a
senior U.N. official added that Annan was issuing an ultimatum as far as
international assistance and support for Haiti. Annan's criticism was
the latest in a series of appeals and warnings to the Haitian
 government and electoral officials over the potential implications of
their refusal to reconsider the vote computation. Late last week the OAS
Permanent Council approved a mission to Haiti, at the invitation of the
Haitian government, ``for resolving, as expeditiously as possible,
 difficulties such as those that have arisen from differenting
interpretations of the Electoral Law.'' The six-member mission, headed
by OAS Secretary-General CÚsar Gaviria, is scheduled to visit Haiti Aug.
17-19.

 CARICOM'S CONCERNS

 Jamaican Ambassador Richard Bernal, speaking for the Caribbean
Community (CARICOM) at last week's OAS meeting, said CARICOM was
``deeply disturbed by the widespread uncertainty created by the
questionable interpretation of the electoral law in relation to the
results of the senatorial elections.'' He noted that Haiti was in the
process of becoming a full CARICOM member and that its ``final accession
to the Community depends on the ratification by its parliament of the
already agreed terms and conditions . . .'' and that ``the
 legitimacy of the Haitian Parliament is therefor of paramount
importance to CARICOM. ``The conclusion of free, fair and transparent
elections, and installation of a government accepted by the
international community, is a necessary condition for the release of
much needed development assistance to Haiti, and for the continued good
standing of Haiti within the community of nations.'' Some observers see
as a positive sign the fact that while the election results have been
officially announced, the date for a seating of a new parliament has not
yet been set. The dispute centers on the method of tabulating Senate
winners in May/June first round parliamentary elections that gave
Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas party 18 of the 19 Senate seats on the ballot
without a runoff. The 19th went to a pro-Aristide independent.
 An OAS electoral observer mission charged that had the votes been
tabulated according to the electoral law, a runoff election would have
been necessary for 10of the 19 Senate seats.``The outcome,'' Annan said
in his report, ``has been a deepening of the political crisis, increased
tension and violence and the possible installation of a Senate which --
if the crucial calculation question is not addressed -- would cast a
shadow over the parliament's democratic legitimacy and thereby threaten
the early resumption of much needed international financial assistance
for the people of Haiti.''

 AID NEGLIGIBLE

 Foreign assistance to Haiti has been negligible since President Rene
Preval shut down parliament in January 1999, declaring its term had
expired. Much of the programmed foreign aid for Haiti requires
parliamentary approval. Last week, the United States announced it was
shutting down two training programs for the police and the justice
system due to lack of funding. There also is legislation pending in the
House of Representatives to be dealt with when Congress returns in
September from its summer recess that forbids disbursement of funds for
Haiti until the secretary of state reports to Congress that Haiti ``has
held free and fair elections to seat a new parliament'' and the White
House drug czar's office reports that ``Haiti is fully cooperating''
with U.S. anti-drug efforts.

 Special correspondent Stewart Stogel at the United Nations contributed
to this report.