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8735: New elections OK'd in Haiti (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Published Tuesday, July 17, 2001

New elections OK'd in Haiti
Legislative seats included

Following a year of bitter squabbles that forced the international community 
to cut off aid to Haiti, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and a coalition of 
opposition politicians have agreed to hold new legislative and local 

No date has been set for those elections, but the promise of a resolution to 
this long-standing stalemate may be enough to allow Aristide's government to 
get access to millions of dollars in loans and aid.

``We have advanced in the direction of a total agreement,'' said Gerard 
Pierre-Charles, leader of the Convergence Democratique, an opposition 
coalition of 15 small political parties. ``We've made a lot of progress. 
We're negotiating in good faith.''

The breakthrough came after three days of talks mediated by CÚsar Gaviria, 
secretary general of the Organization of American States. Gaviria left Haiti 
on Monday, but Aristide's party and the opposition said the talks would 
continue this week.

``We took a commitment to keep talking,'' said Prime Minister Jean-Marie 
Cherestal. ``This is a major step and it's clear we are not far from 
resolving the crisis.''

The dispute centered on the May 2000 elections, when Aristide's Lavalas 
Party swept more than 80 percent of about 7,000 elected posts. The 
opposition said the elections were rigged to favor Aristide's party.

Aristide won his second, nonconsecutive term in November elections boycotted 
by the Convergence.

Both sides agreed to elections to replace the lower house of parliament, 18 
of the 27 seats in the Senate and all local government posts. Pierre-Charles 
said they agreed on an electoral council, but are still divided over dates.

The Lavalas Party wants parliamentary elections in November 2002 and local 
elections in 2003. Convergence wants all the elections in 2002.

Pierre-Charles said the two parties should be able to reach an agreement 
when Gaviria returns to Haiti in two weeks.

``I think we're on the right road,'' Pierre-Charles said. ``Both sides have 
understood the importance of getting out of the crisis.''

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