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8547: Haiti-Politics (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By MICHAEL NORTON
PORT-AU-PRINCE, July 3 (AP) -- Talks to end Haiti's political crisis
broke down Tuesday, with the governing party and opposition unable to agree
on which of last year's disputed elections should be rerun.
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's party and the 15-party opposition
alliance Convergence met Tuesday for a fourth day of talks seeking to end
the country's yearlong stalemate, but negotiations ended in the early
"We began with a lot of hope, and we ended the talks with a little
bitterness," Prime Minister Jean-Marie Cherestal said.
Last year, Aristide's Lavalas Family party won more than 80 percent of
some 7,000 elected posts, but Convergence denounced the elections as
fraudulent and called for new voting. The opposition also boycotted
November's presidential election, in which Aristide beat a field of
"What will happen to our poor country now? More chaos, economic failure,
social unrest and moral degradation," said economist and opposition
politician Herve Denis.
Until new elections are held for seven disputed Senate seats, the United
States is channeling $80 million in annual aid to non-governmental agencies
instead of the government.
An additional $400 million in loans from various international financial
institutions and about $100 million in grants from the European Union has
Last month the Organization of American States endorsed Aristide's plan
to hold new elections to replace those seven senators, who have resigned,
and to have staggered parliamentary elections between 2002 and 2004.
Aristide's party and the opposition had made progress in talks over the
weekend, agreeing Sunday night on the composition of an electoral council.
But in the end there was no deal.
"We cannot overturn what the people voted," Cherestal said.
The two sides had negotiated into the early morning Tuesday in a 17-hour
session. Convergence spokesman former Sen. Paul Denis said that early
Tuesday there was a tacit agreement to exchange recognition of the
presidential election and a third of the Senate races held on Nov. 26,
2000, for a rerun of all the other elections. But a session later in the
day failed to bring the two sides together.
"The Lavalas Family made a complete about-face," Denis said.
Lavalas spokesman Yvon Neptune said after the talks: "We don't make
Officials from the OAS who were mediating the talks were not immediately
available for comment. Denis and OAS Assistant Secretary General Luigi R.
Einaudi adjourned the talks without giving any date when they might resume.
It was the fourth failed attempt to negotiate a settlement since last
year's disputed elections.