Haiti says elections adviser no longer welcome
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Haiti's government declared a prominent
international elections adviser persona non grata, casting further doubt over the
turbulent elections process, a radio station reported Monday.
Micheline Begin, head of the Haiti office of the Washington-based International
Foundation for Election Systems, left Haiti before the government could expel her,
Premier Jacques-Edouard Alexis said in an interview with the state-run Television
Nationale that was broadcast by private Radio Kiskeya Monday.
Begin reported to Washington headquarters that, during a March meeting
domestic and international elections officials at the National Palace, President
Rene Preval was unduly influenced by advisers allegedly loyal to the party of
former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Preval's mentor and predecessor, Alexis
"We can't tolerate this sort of declaration from a foreigner," said Alexis,
called it "an insult." Begin "lost her credibility," he said.
In a telephone interview, Torie Keller, IFES information officer in Washington,
confirmed Begin was no longer in Haiti but declined further comment.
The non-governmental agency has been giving technical assistance to Haiti
1990, when Aristide was elected in a landslide. Aristide supporters have accused
IFES of trying to control the electoral apparatus.
In February, IFES stirred up a hornet's nest of criticism when it said
registration difficulties could postpone elections, which were set at that time for
The elections were postponed and reset for April, but Preval contested
authority of Haiti's electoral council to set a date without his agreement. After
much discussion, two rounds of local and legislative elections were rescheduled
for May 21 and June 25.
By declaring Begin undesirable in Haiti, "the government has blinded the
international community, whose eye on the electoral process is IFES," said
opposition leader and former Port-au-Prince Mayor Evans Paul.
"In this climate, I don't see how credible, democratic balloting can take
month," said Paul, who charged Aristide partisans controlled the computer
division of the electoral council.
Aristide -- who was barred by law from seeking a consecutive term as president
in 1995 elections -- plans to seek a second term as president in December voting.
Bloodshed and vandalism have marred the bumbling preparations for elections,
dampening the enthusiasm of more than 4 million registered voters and halting
most election campaigning.
On Sunday night, gunmen killed Elam Senat, a well-known Space for Concord
militant in the town of Savanette, and his 23-year-old son, Edner, Paul said. The
attackers broke into their home on the town's outskirts.
In the Port-au-Prince suburb of Delmas, arsonists torched the home of
legislature candidate Jeremie Joachim, also of the Space for Concord coalition.
Last week, the government banned street demonstrations until after elections
prevent possible violence. A dozen people have been killed in politically related
slayings since March 29.
Aristide party spokesmen have denied responsibility for political violence.