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6926: U.S. Deals Blow to Aristide (fwd)
From: nozier <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Tuesday February 6 1:28 AM ET
U.S. Deals Blow to Aristide By PAISLEY DODDS, Associated Press Writer
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - The new U.S. ambassador to Haiti says he
will be the only person representing the United States at Jean-Bertrand
Aristide's inauguration, adding that the two countries can't have a
normal relationship until an elections impasse is resolved. In one of
the first interviews since he arrived last month as U.S. ambassador
to Haiti, Brian Dean Curran said Monday the United States would not
send an official delegation to Aristide's inauguration on Wednesday.
The announcement comes as another blow to Aristide, who is desperately
searching for support now that questionable results from May
parliamentary elections have left the international community
second-guessing his legitimacy and threatening to withhold aid.
International leaders questioned the May results after Aristide's
Lavalas Family party won 80 percent of local and legislative offices.
The Organization of American States found flaws in how the winning
percentages for the Senate were calculated and said 10 Senate seats won
by Aristide candidates should have gone to a second round vote.
``We can't have a normal relationship with the government until
problems with the May elections are resolved,'' Curran told reporters
at his residence outside the capital.
Lavalas held talks with Haiti's opposition for a second day Monday,
seeking to keep the impoverished country from descending further into
disorder. If the talks fall through, the opposition alliance - dubbed
``Convergence'' - plans to announce its own alternative government.U.S.
Republicans have called Aristide's Nov. 26 election undemocratic, and
on Jan. 29, the European Union (news - web sites) decided to block
$49 million in aid to Haiti. Some $17.7 million, intended to help cover
the country's budget deficit, also was suspended.
Aristide has offered to rectify the election results, include opposition
figures in his government, and appoint a new electoral council. But the
opposition has rejected his offers, saying last year's elections should
be nullified and general elections held within a year. ``The United
States has an important interest in this region,'' Curran said.`We have
historical ties. They're our neighbors, so we must stay engaged in the
The Bush administration has not outlined its foreign policy aspirations
with Haiti, but Curran said that he wanted to see the United States
involved in Haiti's social and economic development, its programs to
stop illegal migration and its work against drugs.
``Because of weakened institutions and the inability to confront drug
traffickers, the drug problem is a much bigger threat to Haiti than to
the United States,'' said Curran, previously the ambassador to
Mozambique.``That's why we have to work together.''
Aristide first won the presidency in a landslide electoral victory in
1990. The army ousted him in September 1991, and a U.S. military
invasion three years later restored him to power. Constitutionally
barred from running for a consecutive five-year term, Aristide
stepped down in 1996 and handed power to his chosen successor, Rene
Casting further doubt on Haiti's future, the United Nations (news - web
will close its troubled, yearlong democracy-building mission to the
nation this week.
U.N. spokesman Fred Eckhard acknowledged Monday that the mission
struggled since its inception last March, but said that in the
``considerable'' progress had been achieved in helping to improve
judiciary, promote human rights and encourage foreign aid.