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6928: Haiti talks break down one day before inauguration (FWD) (fwd)
From: LMB <email@example.com>
Haiti talks break down one day before inauguration
February 6, 2001
Web posted at: 9:28 AM EST (1428 GMT)
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Talks between Haiti's
opposition and President-elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide's
party broke down Tuesday, and the opposition immediately
announced its own alternative president, setting up a
struggle for power one day before Aristide's inauguration.
The 15-party opposition alliance Convergence announced
former presidential candidate Gerard Gourgue as the
country's provisional president.
One of the Convergence leaders, Evans Paul, called for the
people "to rise up" and peacefully demonstrate their
rejection of the president in front of the National Palace
on Wednesday, where he is to give his inaugural address
there at noon.
Convergence refuses to recognize Aristide's legitimacy as
president, saying his party won legislative and local
elections last year through fraud. The opposition boycotted
the presidential vote.
The talks were held with the stated purpose of finding
common ground, and the two parties had set a deadline of
midnight Monday to reach an agreement. But the talks were
extended into the early morning, and then they failed,
according to those who were there.
Aristide's Lavalas Family party and the opposition alliance
blamed each other for the breakdown, with mutual
accusations of intransigence.
Gourgue, a 75-year-old lawyer and human rights activist,
was minister of justice in the ruling junta that followed
the ouster of dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier in 1986. He was
a presidential candidate in the 1987 elections that were
aborted by the army.
The selection of Gourgue (pronounced GOORG) as provisional
president was revealed to The Associated Press by Hubert
Deronceray, a leading member of Convergence. The Cabinet
members in the opposition's parallel government have yet to
The negotiations between the opposition and Aristide's
party began Saturday night with the signature of a protocol
and continued Sunday and Monday in the presence of foreign
Aristide was re-elected president on November 26, handily
defeating his six little-known opponents. His Lavalas
Family party also won more than 80 percent of local and
parliamentary seats in a series of elections last year.
The OAS said 10 Senate seats won by Aristide candidates
should have gone to a second round vote, and some countries
threatened to withhold or rechannel aid through
non-governmental agencies if the government did not revise
"The respect of democratic principles has not yet been
re-established in Haiti," the European Union said in a
statement on January 29, when it decided to block $49
million in aid to Haiti. Some $17.7 million, intended to
help cover the country's budget deficit, also was
Members of U.S. President George W. Bush's Republican Party
have called Aristide's election as president undemocratic.
But U.S. ambassador Brian Dean Curran said Monday that "the
formation of a provisional government does not advance
prospects for dialogue or a solution of the political
The Lavalas Family position was expressed in a letter
Aristide wrote to former U.S. President Bill Clinton in
Aristide offered to rectify the election results, include
opposition figures in his government, and appoint a new
provisional electoral council.
The opposition rejected Aristide's offers, saying last
year's elections should be nullified and new elections
should be held.
In a proposal, Convergence offered Aristide one seat on a
three-member presidential council. An opposition premier
would rule by decree, and general elections would be held
"We want real democracy -- not a piece of the government,"
said Convergence delegate Mischa Gaillard.
"We want a compromise," said Jonas Petit, a Lavalas Family
delegate to the talks. "Unfortunately, Convergence wants to
wipe the slate clean."
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
Constitutionally barred from running for a consecutive
five-year term, Aristide stepped down in 1996 and handed
power to his chosen successor, Rene Preval.
Copyright 2001 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten,
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