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6078: Tough challenge in Haiti (fwd)
Thursday, 30 November, 2000, 12:05 GMT
Tough challenge in Haiti
By BBC correspondent Peter Greste
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who has just been declared the winner of Haiti's
presidential elections, faces daunting challenges as he contemplates his
new mandate. The electoral authorities say the former priest has
secured 91.7% of the vote, giving him his second run as president.
But analysts say that with Haiti shunned by the international community,
Mr Aristide faces a tough job bringing the country out of its current
economic and political crisis. The announcement of the final results by
Haiti's provisional electoral council was always going to be a
Nobody seriously doubted that Jean Bertrand Aristide would win the race
against three other relatively unknown candidates. But his final score
was at the upper end of expectations. Mr. Aristide's party,Family
Lavalas, also made a clean sweep of the eight Senate seats up for grabs,
giving it all but one seat in the Upper House and control over 80%
of the House of Assembly. It is difficult to determine if there was
any fraud. There were few international observers,though nobody
seriously questions the fact that Mr. Aristide is the most popular
politician in the country. But the turnout for the poll was low and
not clear if that was because of voter apathy or because Haitians
heeded a call by the main opposition parties to boycott the poll.
Broke, corrupt and shunned
Either way, Mr Aristide has a hugely difficult job on his hands.
Haiti is the poorest country in the western hemisphere, yet the main
donor countries have frozen direct government to government aid.
And they have blocked development lines because of concerns about
election irregularities from earlier in the year.The infrastructure in
Haiti has almost completely collapsed and drug-trafficking has corrupted
both the judicial system and the police force. To complicate things
further, relations with the political opposition have almost completely
collapsed. "We'll give him a bit of time to fix things," one street
mechanic told me, "but if things don't get much better soon, he'd better
watch out for the people."