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7222: Haiti's Prime Minister And Cabinet Sworn In (fwd)
From: nozier <firstname.lastname@example.org>
friday March 2 6:27 PM ET
Haiti's Prime Minister And Cabinet Sworn In __ByTrenton Daniel
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Haiti's new Prime Minister Jean-Marie
Cherestal and his cabinet were sworn in on Friday and Cherestal made an
immediate overture to opposition parties to end a long-running political
crisis.Cherestal, 54, who served as planning and finance minister in the
1990s and has been Haiti's chief trade negotiator since 1998, also
requested the release of millions of dollars in foreign aid to Haiti,
the Western Hemisphere's poorest country. ``I call for dialogue with all
political sectors to definitively resolve the political crisis,'' said
Cherestal, who also said he would ``engage in a dialogue with foreign
donors to release the frozen international assistance.''
Haiti's new administration under President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, a
former slum priest who returned to power in February for a second term,
faces the challenge of resolving a political deadlock from legislative
elections last year.
International observers said elections officials miscalculated vote
results, giving outright
victories to Aristide's ruling Lavalas Family party in 10 senate seats
that should have gone to runoffs. Haitian authorities repeatedly
refused to recalculate the results.
The government's decision led to an opposition boycott of the November
election won by Aristide, and suspension of foreign aid by
Almost 80 percent of Haiti's 7.8 million people live in poverty.
Minimum wage is less than $2 a day and 62 percent of the population
suffer from malnutrition.
In a speech at Friday's inauguration that stressed the need for
dialogue with the opposition, Aristide said he had signed a letter to
name nine new members of the electoral council. Elections officials,
who oversaw the disputed elections, could not be reached for comment.
Cherestal's cabinet reflects Aristide's promise to former President
Clinton (news - web sites) to include opposition members in his
Marc Bazin, a leader of the opposition party Movement to Institute
Democracy in Haiti, was installed as minister of planning and external
The government also includes Stanley Theard, commerce minister under
Jean-Claude ``Baby Doc'' Duvalier. Aristide, Haiti's first freely
elected leader, rose to power a decade ago in the wake of a grass-roots
movement that ended the 30-year Duvalier regime in 1986. He took the
presidency in 1991, was ousted by a military regime later that year and
restored to power by a U.S. invasion force in 1994.