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9365: Financial Times on Impasse 102501 (fwd)
Impasse on political reform hits Haiti aid
By Canute James in Kingston - Oct 25 2001 19:52:07
Haiti's efforts to meet conditions for receiving hundreds of millions of
dollars in foreign aid have been further set back by the failure of the
government and the opposition to agree on reforming the country's political
The country's problems have been compounded by the impact of the September 11
attacks on the US, which have led to a decline in private remittances on which
hundreds of thousands of Haitians depend.
The administration of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the opposition have
been locked in a dispute over legislative elections 17 months ago, which the
opposition, foreign governments and regional organisations concur, were
manipulated to benefit the president's Fanmi Lavalas party.
Fanmi Lavalas and Convergence Democratique, a coalition of 15 opposition
parties, have agreed that there will be legislative elections for both the
lower house and the Senate in November next year.
However, they have disagreed on whether these elections should be preceded by
reruns of the disputed seats from last year's voting, when Mr Aristide's party
took control of the legislature and most municipalities.
The Organisation of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (Caricom)
have been trying to mediate an end to the crisis. "This latest failure of the
parties to agree on the electoral changes is very frustrating," said a
spokesman for Caricom, of which Haiti is a member. "It appears we were very
close to a solution."
The OAS and Caricom earlier had been encouraged by Mr Aristide's agreement to
restructure Haiti's electoral council to include the opposition, the church,
judiciary, business and human rights organisations.
The government said also that it would guarantee the funding, independence and
security of the electoral council.
Caribbean officials say that about $1bn in credits, grants and technical
assistance has been promised to Haiti but that disbursement has been tied to
The country needs economic assistance. Unemployment is estimated at 60 per cent
and the average Haitian earns about $250 per year.
© Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2001.
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