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8689: OAS Head Meets Haiti Opposition (fwd)

From: Dan Craig <dgcraig@att.net>

OAS Head Meets Haiti Opposition

Filed at 5:23 p.m. ET

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- The head of the Organization of American
States met separately with leaders of Haiti's ruling party and
opposition Friday, trying to reach an agreement on new elections to end
a political crisis crippling the Caribbean nation's economy.

OAS officials have said that if the negotiations succeed it will help
free hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid suspended after
flawed general elections last year.

In Friday's talks at a hotel, OAS Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria tried
to persuade the two sides to meet directly and hammer out a plan for the

Previous negotiations broke down on July 3, when President Jean
Bertrand-Aristide's Lavalas Family party and the opposition failed to
agree on which of last year's contested races should be rerun.

"As matters stand, it is senseless to have face-to-face talks," said
Mischa Gaillard, spokesman for the 15-party Convergence opposition

Gaviria is scheduled to leave Monday. He arrived Thursday on his third
visit in three weeks to mediate talks.

Aristide's Lavalas Family swept more than 80 percent of some 7,000
elected local posts last year. Convergence, a coalition of 15 opposition
parties, said the electoral council and the elections it organized were
rigged to favor Aristide's party.

Aristide won his second, nonconsecutive term in November elections
boycotted by opposition parties.

Convergence has agreed to accept the validity of Aristide's victory and
one-third of the 27-seat Senate, but wants a rerun for all other local
and legislative seats.

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company