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7779: Haiti: President Aristide sets 18 May deadline for resolving political crisis (fwd)




From: Max Blanchet <maxblanchet@worldnet.att.net>

Haiti: President Aristide sets 18 May deadline for resolving political
crisis
BBC Monitoring Service - United Kingdom; May 5, 2001

In a three-hour meeting convoked by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and
held at the National Palace with various sectors of civil society and some
politicians, the absence of the Democratic Convergence opposition grouping
of political parties was deplored by all the participants. The annulment of
the 21 May 2000 parliamentary elections and a government and Provisional
Electoral Council (CEP) of consensus were suggested as the starting point
for negotiations. President Aristide committed himself to finding a solution
to the political crisis by 18 May, Haiti's Flag Day, and said he was ready
to meet the Convergence anywhere. "Everybody who took part in the meeting
expressed his dissatisfaction and weariness as regards the persistence of
the crisis," according to Gerard Blot, the leader of Solidarity for National
Rescue party (TA) and a spokesman for Alternative for Change (AC), a group
of opposition parties. The following is the text of a report by Haitian
Metropole radio on 4 May:

[Unidentified announcer] President Aristide has set 18 May as the deadline
to find a solution to the serious crisis which resulted from the 21 May
[2000] elections. This decision was made in the meeting which took place
yesterday at the National Palace with representatives of different sectors.
The absence of the Democratic Convergence was very much regretted. All the
participants agreed that the country could not take any more. Correspondent
Jean Numa Goudou reported the following:

[Goudou - recording] It was not really a negotiating session, as expected.
Lesly Pean [phonetic] and Frantz Large, the meeting's two rapporteurs called
everyone's attention to the fact that a very important sector was not
present. The meeting lasted for three hours and five points were on the
agenda for discussion.

[Pean] Everybody deplored the absence of the Convergence and it was agreed
unanimously that the Democratic Convergence is part of the solution.

[Goudou] The participants discussed the possibility of taking in hand the
economy, society and the institutions. They suggested the proposal made by
the Centre for Free Enterprise and Democracy [CLED], which is the annulment
of the 21 May elections and a government and Provisional Electoral Council
[CEP] of consensus, as the starting point for the negotiations. All the
participants acknowledged the fact that the crisis has lasted long enough.
Since the 2 May deadline was not met, a new date was given. Before 18 May,
Flag Day, a solution should be found.

[Large] I raised the issue because I thought it was very important. I
personally put the question to President Aristide, I asked him: Are you
committing yourself to finding a solution before 18 May, our Flag Day? And
Aristide said: Yes, I commit myself to that.

I think that is very good news.

[Goudou] But others are asking: How? Because the Convergence, which is one
of the main protagonists, was not present because of the fact that the
National Palace was not a neutral place. Is Aristide willing to have a
meeting with the opposition anywhere?

[Large] Aristide said: There is no problem. If the meeting takes place at
the National Palace, then let it be. If it takes place in a hotel room or in
Cap-Haitien or anywhere else, it can help to find a solution to the crisis.
Aristide is personally ready to meet the Convergence.

[Goudou] But we cannot be so sure yet, because it will all depend on the
good will of both protagonists. [End of recording]

[Announcer] The leaders of Movement for the Establishment of Democracy in
Haiti [MIDH] and the Solidarity for National Rescue [TA] are said to be
satisfied by the meeting at the National Palace. MIDH leader Marc L. Bazin,
who is also minister of planning and cooperation, said the meeting
represents a good start. TA leader Gerard Blot believes that Lavalas is
ready to sacrifice the contested officials:

[Blot - recording, in Creole] Progress is being made because, before, it was
a question of the withdrawal of nine senators but now the Lavalas Family
does not stand on that position anymore. It is ready to nullify the 21 May
elections. Everybody agreed that this meeting was the first of a series of
meetings which will have to take place. The president said he will meet each
group separately to see how he can go forward. Everybody who took part in
the meeting expressed his dissatisfaction and weariness as regards the
persistence of the crisis. [End of recording]

[Bazin - recording, in Creole] The crisis does not have just a
post-electoral aspect, but also structural reasons, which are poverty,
unemployment, malnutrition, AIDS, prostitution, bad roads, no electricity
and failing telephones. Therefore, the post-electoral crisis cannot be
resolved without tackling the true social problems. Another thing is that
the Convergence was not there and everybody deplored its absence. Everybody
agreed that the Democratic Convergence is essential to the resolution of the
crisis. Efforts will be made to ensure that the Convergence is present at
the next meeting. Another thing is that 21 May is a problem. Everybody
agreed that the 21 May elections were not held properly, that they should be
nullified and that there are sacrifices which certain people will have to
agree to make. [End of recording]

Source: Radio Metropole, Port-au-Prince, in French 1145 gmt 4 May 01

/BBC Monitoring/  BBC.