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9953: Haitian govt lobby for resumption of aid (AP) (fwd)
AP story picked up by Times of India and world news:
Haitian govt lobby for resumption of aid
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti: Haiti's government and its supporters in the United
States are pleading for the resumption of hundreds of millions of dollars in
blocked foreign aid to keep the country from slipping further into poverty
"The international community says it wants to establish democracy in Haiti,"
Culture and Communication Minister Guy Paul said Friday. "Yet the suspension
of aid is impoverishing us and destabilizing our own efforts to establish
A disagreement between the opposition and President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's
government over how to make amends for flawed elections last year prompted
the suspension of aid by the United States and other donors.
The conflict centers on the opposition's charges of rigging in local and
legislative elections won last year by Aristide's Lavalas Family party. The
Organization of American States determined that seven senators declared
winners after first-round voting should have faced runoffs.
Those senators have now resigned. Both the 15-party opposition alliance
Convergence and the government have agreed to hold new elections, but talks
on terms for a transition broke down in October.
OAS Assistant Secretary-General Luigi Einaudi is in Haiti this week to press
for a resumption in talks, but political violence has put new negotiations in
Although the United States is channeling some $70 million in aid to Haiti
through non-governmental agencies, it has used its veto power to keep the
Inter-American Development Bank from releasing some $145.9 million in loans
for public health, education and infrastructure projects.
In a November 8 letter to US President George Bush, the 38-member US
Congressional Black Caucus pleaded for a new stance.
"Our current policy is contributing to the continued attrition of the quality
of life of Haiti's people," the legislators said.
White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said on November 20 that Bush is
"very attentive to the concerns" raised by the Black Caucus. "Certainly,
the stability of Haiti is an important part of America's foreign policy," he
The European Union also has blocked about $55 million in aid. More than $200
million of World Bank loans have been lost and will have to be renegotiated.
The opposition demands parliament be temporarily dismissed while new
elections are held. Aristide's party insists officials stay in office until
the election's winners are installed.
The country's worsening economic situation has increasingly provoked unrest.
Several people have been killed in recent clashes between government and
On Monday, a pro-Aristide mob stoned and hacked to death radio journalist
Brignol Lindor, who last week received death threats for interviewing
opposition supporters on his talk show.
( AP )