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#5037: U.S. Warns Haiti on Election Setup (fwd)
U.S. Warns Haiti on Election Setup
by GEORGE GEDDA Associated Press Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Clinton administration vowed Tuesday to
impose economic sanctions against Haiti unless it strengthens
democratic procedures in advance of presidential and legislative
elections set for Nov. 26.The warning was issued by Luis Lauredo, U.S.
ambassador to the Organization of American States, at an OAS permanent
council meeting on OAS efforts to help build democracy in Haiti.
Lauredo accused Haitian authorities of an unwillingness to address the
''serious irregularities and deficiencies'' that he said were evident
during parliamentary runoff elections in May. The runoff, along with
balloting in June and July, resulted in overwhelming victories for the
Lavalas Family party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who is
expected to win re-election to the presidency in November.'In the
absence of meaningful change,'' Lauredo said, ''the United States
will not support the presidential and legislative elections of Nov. 26,
financially or through observer missions,'' he said.
A former Haitian senator praised Lauredo's remarks.''We hail the
evolution of the U.S. position,'' said Paul Denis, of the former
parliamentary majority Struggling People's Organization. ''It will
support the struggle of the Haitian people against a government that
wants to establish a dictatorship.''Lauredo added that the U.S.
government also would send nearly all bilateral assistance to the
people of Haiti through private and non-governmental organizations, thus
bypassing the Haitian government. Lauredo also raised the possibility
that the United States would oppose Haitian loan requests from
international lending institutions. U.S. officials had spoken of the
possibility of punitive measures previously but only in general terms.
''We have reached a crossroads,'' Lauredo said. ''The elation
experienced on May 21, when millions of Haitians demonstrated their
trust in the ballot box and democratic elections, has turned sour as a
result of the unwillingness of the Haitian authorities to address the
serious irregularities and deficiencies arising in the elections'
aftermath.'' Concern about the electoral procures also was expressed by
Ambassador Kingsley C.A. Layne, of St. Vincent, speaking on behalf of
the Caribbean Community. OAS election monitors said some seats won in
the first round of voting should have gone to a runoff vote in May
because the leading candidate failed to win more than 50 percent of the
vote. That assessment is shared by the Clinton administration -- as well
as Canada and the European Union, both of which also have raised the
possibility of imposing sanctions against