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6944: AP Aristide is sworn in (fwd)
From: Jean Jean-Pierre <email@example.com>
February 7, 2001
Aristide Starts 2nd Term in Haiti
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 11:17 a.m. ET
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) --
Jean-Bertrand Aristide was sworn in
Wednesday, returning to power as
Haiti's president on a promise to bring
change to a country devastated by
poverty and torn by political divisions.
Holding his hand on a Bible, the former
Roman Catholic priest took the oath of
office before Parliament. He stood
stone-faced through the swearing-in then
smiled as his predecessor, Rene Preval,
slipped the red-and-blue presidential
sash over his left shoulder.
Hundreds of supporters filled the streets outside the
even though they had no view of the proceedings inside.
``We planted the seed, and now it's time to reap what's sown.
to make sure all the work we've done for Aristide pays off,''
Frizner, a 28-year-old construction worker who had been
outside the palace since sunrise.
While Aristide's return is celebrated by many poor Haitians,
it has been
shunned by the international community, which was critical of
and local elections held in May. Of the few diplomats
attending, most are
ambassadors, not world leaders.
Aristide, 47, is also challenged by Haiti's opposition
protested fraud in the May vote and have announced their own
provisional president to head an alternative government while
Aristide became Haiti's first democratically elected president
landslide victory in 1990. The army ousted him in September
a U.S. military invasion restored him to power three years
Constitutionally barred from running for a consecutive term,
spent only a few months in office before stepping down in 1996
handing power to his protege, Preval.
In the Village of Peace, a shantytown built on a state-owned
outside Port-au-Prince, support for Aristide is strong among
grateful that they are allowed to stay rent-free.
``I will wait for him to make things better,'' said Viergemene
38-year-old mother of five who sleeps with her children and
one bed in a small cement shack.
``Everybody here is for Aristide,'' said Jean-Jaques Nardy,
lives in the shantytown. ``He didn't have enough time in
office before to
do anything. This time will be different.''
In last year's elections, Aristide's Lavalas Family party won
more than 80
percent of local and parliamentary seats. The Organization of
States said 10 Senate seats won by Aristide candidates should
to a second round vote, and some countries threatened to
In a letter to then-President Clinton in December, Aristide
rectify the election results, include opposition figures in
and appoint a new provisional electoral council. But the
rejected his offers, calling for new elections.
France and the European Union didn't send representatives to
inauguration because they ``mean to show their disapproval of
conditions in which the controversial electoral process took
French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The United States also did not send a delegation and was
only by its ambassador. Top officials were attending from
Guatemala, Panama, Belize and other countries.
Now Aristide faces three challenges: deliver on promises so he
the support of Haiti's poor majority; patch up relations with
international community to secure aid for the poorest country
Western Hemisphere; and fix an impasse with the opposition.
Talks to find common ground with the opposition began Saturday
went on into early Tuesday. But they failed.
On Tuesday, the 15-party opposition alliance Convergence named
former presidential candidate Gerard Gourgue, 75, as the
provisional president in an alternative government. It also
a seat on a three-member presidential council. An opposition
would rule by decree, and general elections would be held by
Aristide's party chose to hold the inauguration on Feb. 7, a
holiday and the day that dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier was
power in 1986.
Children didn't attend school Wednesday, and many telephone
been painted in blue and red, the national colors, near the
Palace, where Aristide was to give his inaugural address.
Aristide's swearing-in was shown on television throughout the
and Reynold Pierre, a 29-year-old hotel employee, said he was
as he watched.
``I'm confident that now the country has a chance to
develop,'' he said.