PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Haitian officials admitted Friday that parliamentary elections scheduled for April 9 are being shelved, dealing another blow to hopes for democracy in the hemisphere's poorest country. Opposition politicians claim President Rene Preval wants to postpone the vote until December, when former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide runs for another term, so parliamentary candidates can ride his coattails to victory and strengthen his power. Preval -- the hand-picked successor of Aristide, who is barred from consecutive terms -- shut down parliament last year after a power struggle, then appointed an electoral council by decree.
Election dates to form a new parliament were twice postponed, and Preval
refused to approve the latest dates -- April 9 and May 21.
April 9 is "out of the question," since it is unacceptable to Preval, election council member Carlo Dupiton said Friday.
At any rate, with a mountain of logistical difficulties and periodic violence shaking Port-au-Prince, the chances of meeting a June 12 constitutional deadline to install a new parliament are dwindling. "We can't speak of June 12," said Preval's appointed premier, Jacques-Eduoard Alexis, who insisted this week that Haiti would hold two separate votes for parliament and president, regardless of the date.
The United States -- which intervened in Haiti in 1994 to disband a military-run regime and restore Aristide's elected government -- is pressing Haiti to meet the election deadline. "It's indispensable," Arturo Valenzuela, President Clinton's special assistant for Inter-American affairs, said during a March 20 visit.
Alexis bristled at such statements. "We are not here to defend the interests of foreign countries before those of our people," he said. With the election process in crisis, Aristide activists demanding the election council's resignation took to Port-au-Prince's streets on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, stoning cars and burning market stalls.
On Tuesday, a local opposition party official and his wife were killed
in their home in the western town of Petit-Goave. And on Thursday, a mob
ransacked a Petit-Goave courthouse to protest the questioning of Aristide
partisans in the killing.
Also at stake are some $500 million in international loans for Haiti, the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation. The loans depend on ratification by a parliament.
The European Community, meanwhile, has indicated that if a rapid solution
is not found, its aid -- tens of millions of dollars a year -- would be
the question," since it is unacceptable to Preval, election council
member Carlo Dupiton said Friday.
," Arturo Valenzuela, President Clinton's special assistant for Inter-American affairs, said during a March 20 visit.
as yet to better Aristide in any confrontation. Since September of 1991 Aristide has aimed at a revolution in which he can ashcan the constitution, replacing it with a new one.... after which he will take over as president. Americans saying that elections are "indispensable" carry absolutely no weight since Aristide knows they have balls of slush. He knows they know he is in charge of the cocaine traffic through Haiti. If the Americans won't act on this.... he knows they won't act on something simple like a delayed election. The Clinton team will be able to rationalize the delay away.
id plays into Aristide's hands. This will make things harder for Haiti's majority. They will face a worsening situation that eventually sees them as instruments of Aristide's policy..... weapons in the revolution he wishes to generate.