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9245: Haiti-Talks (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By MICHAEL NORTON
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Oct 14 (AP) -- Talks collapsed between Haiti's governing
and opposition parties Sunday, a day after they started, the latest in a
string of failed attempts to end the country's 16-month political standoff.
Yet again the sides could not agree on which elections to conduct to
resolve the conflict that emerged after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's
party swept last year's elections. The opposition claims Aristide's Lavalas
Family party won by fraud, and has called for all new elections.
Millions of dollars in foreign aid have been put on hold until the
crisis is resolved.
The talks began Saturday under pressure from Luigi Einaudi, assistant
secretary-general of the Organization of American States, who came to Haiti
to revive negotiations that broke off in July.
"We did not obtain a concrete result that will permit the signature of
an initial agreement," Einaudi told reporters Sunday before leaving Haiti.
OAS officials have traveled to Haiti at least 15 times to try to resolve
the standoff between the Lavalas Family Party and the 15-party Convergence
On Saturday, Lavalas and Convergence tentatively agreed to hold
parliamentary elections for the 83-seat lower house and two-thirds of the
27-seat upper house in November 2002.
But Aristide's party refused to shorten the terms of mayors, aldermen
and local assembly members. For the new elections, the party insisted the
incumbents be allowed to stay in office until results are official.
Lavalas spokesman Sen. Yvon Neptune said the terms are "nonnegotiable."
The opposition refused those conditions.
"We cannot accept the unacceptable," said opposition legal adviser Osner
Fevry. "Last year's so-called elections were an electoral coup d'etat."
Aristide's party won 80 percent of local and legislative seats in the
May 2000 elections. Aristide won his second, nonconsecutive term as
president in November elections boycotted by the major opposition parties.
Einaudi said he would return soon to restart talks, but did not give a