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6015: Haiti post election news (fwd)
From: Nancy Dorsinville <email@example.com>
November 27, 2000
After Haitian vote, Aristide says opposition welcome in his government
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Following a presidential election boycotted
by all of Haiti's major opposition parties, near-certain victor
Jean-Bertrand Aristide denied opposition claims that he would squelch
democracy and said his opponents would be welcome in his government.
Appearing Monday at his first news conference since 1994, the former
president didn't explicitly declare victory, but he spoke as if he had
been declared president.
"There will be a place for everyone in my government," Aristide said. "To
have a peaceful Haiti, the opposition is indispensable ... It is part of
our democratic fate."
Asked if he planned to become president for life as previous Haitian
dictators have done, the former priest said: "It is not in my agenda."
Opposition parties that boycotted the presidential vote, meanwhile,
claimed that Aristide has no mandate to govern because most Haitians did
Opposition leader Herve Denis said Monday that the coalition of all major
opposition parties that urged voters to shun the polls would create "a
peaceful alternative" to the government of Aristide and his Lavalas Family
Denis, a former ally of Aristide, refused to elaborate. But it seemed
Haiti's floundering democracy could remain locked in a fight for power
that has stymied development and foreign aid and left many Haitians as
poor and hungry as ever.
Speaking to a crowded room of journalists, Aristide described the
election as a victory for democracy.
"We observed a huge majority of the Haitian people yesterday expressing
their right through their vote," he said. "I am ready to hear what the
electoral council will give as a result."
The electoral council, which opponents charge is loaded with Aristide
supporters, disputed claims of a low turnout and said 60.5 per cent of
more than four million registered voters participated. In some areas, they
said, every registered voter participated.
"They are hallucinating," Denis countered. "The election was
illegitimate. Aristide does not have a mandate to govern. The people's
abstention means they refuse to be governed by Lavalas."
Aristide confronts a mammoth task in keeping his election pledge of
"Peace of mind, peace in the belly" in this Caribbean country, where most
of the eight million people are unemployed and illiterate.
Haiti's traditional aid donors, including Canada, the United States,
France, the European Union and the Organization of American States, have
warned that a disputed presidential election could raise questions about
the legitimacy of Aristide's government. Donors threatened to cut aid
after a hotly disputed vote count in legislative elections in May.
But in a sign the international community was prepared to give Aristide a
chance, United Nations spokesman Fred Eckhard said Monday: "We're glad
(the elections) went ahead as planned and that there was relatively little
Aristide's party was expected to make a clean sweep of nine Senate seats
contested on Sunday, giving the party all but one seat in the Senate and
80 per cent of seats in the House of Assembly.
Opposition parties have boycotted the process since May, charging it was
rigged to ensure Aristide's victory. That made Aristide's victory a
foregone conclusion, as he ran against six unknowns who were too afraid to
Aristide, Haiti's first freely elected president, was toppled in a 1991
military coup and restored to power after a U.S.-led invasion in 1994.
Forced out in 1996 by a constitutional ban on consecutive terms, he handed
power to his hand-picked successor, Rene Preval.
Preliminary results of the election were expected Tuesday. Any complaints
must be lodged within three days, so an official result was expected