Haiti opens campaign for presidential election
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) -- The campaign for Haiti's presidency and nine
senate seats began Wednesday in an election expected to see Jean-Bertrand
Aristide returned to power.
Political analysts expect the Nov. 26 election to return Aristide, a former
Catholic priest who in 1991 took office as Haiti's first freely elected president, to
the presidency after a five-year absence.
"I officially announce the opening of registration for candidates in the
presidential and senatorial elections," said Ernst Mirville, president of Haiti's
electoral council, at a news conference to kick off the campaign.
Elections officials said voter registration would take place between Oct.
Oct. 30. President Rene Preval issued a separate statement urging Haitians to
Haiti was forging ahead with the national vote for the presidency and senate
in the face of international disapproval of a tainted May 21 election that resulted in
an overwhelming victory for Aristide's party Lavalas Family.
International observers said 10 senate seats were improperly awarded to
Family candidates after first- round voting because elections officials
miscalculated the winning vote percentages. The seats should have gone to
second-round runoffs, the observers said.
The international community and Haitian opposition parties criticized the
and refused to participate in second-round balloting.
Aristide, who was ousted in a military coup eight months after taking the
presidency in 1991 and then was restored by a U.S.-led invasion force three years
later, is expected to score an easy victory in the November election, giving his
party control of the presidency and the legislature.
Major opposition parties have vowed to boycott the November vote.
During his news conference, Mirville criticized the opposition parties,
them "puppet opposition."
"This is the most repugnant elite," he said.
The Clinton administration said two weeks ago that it would not send observers
or $20 million in foreign aid to Haiti for the November elections unless the Haitian
government reexamined skewed results from the May 21 vote.
The United States also condemned Haiti for using the same electoral council
oversaw the flawed May poll to organize the fall vote.
The Haitian government has given the electoral council $1 million to organize
elections, according to Haitian government officials.
"Despite the absence of international assistance, we're moving forward
own money and our own means," said Mirville, who became president of the
council after his predecessor Leon Manus fled into exile in June, fearing that his
life was in jeopardy.
"Long live free, fair and transparent elections," Mirville said.
Copyright 2000 Reuters.