May 8, 2000

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 of
                  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, who
                  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 since
                  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 that voter
                  registration difficulties could postpone elections, which were set at that time for
                  March 19.

                  The elections were postponed and reset for April, but Preval contested the
                  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 place this
                  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 to
                  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.