October 6, 1999
Haiti electoral council announces official dates for elections

                  PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Haiti will hold its long-delayed local and
                  legislative elections in two rounds on March 19 and April 30, the provisional
                  electoral council announced Wednesday.

                  The entire 83-seat lower house, 19 seats in the 27-seat upper house, 133
                  municipal councils, and hundreds of local and consultative assemblies will be

                  More than half of Haiti's 8 million people are eligible to vote.

                  The elections have been postponed three times. Officials first said elections
                  would be in November, then pushed them back to January. Officials blamed
                  the postponements on accumulated delays in writing election bylaws and
                  hiring election officials, as well as the precaution to avoid end-of-year and
                  March carnival festivities.

                  There will be a second-round of balloting for parliamentary posts if no
                  candidate wins more than 50 percent of total first-round votes. Local posts
                  will be won with a simple majority.

                  President Rene Preval had dismissed the former parliament in March and
                  unconstitutionally appointed a new premier and a nine-member council by

                  "We want to return to constitutional norms," Premier Jacques-Edouard
                  Alexis said at a Wednesday news conference. "We don't want to prolong
                  the government's term of office."

                  The electoral council did not say when the new parliament, which will
                  confirm a new premier and ministers, would be installed.

                  Candidates will declare their candidacies between Nov. 15 and Dec. 10.
                  The council will announce the validated list of candidates between Dec. 26
                  and Jan. 4.

                  There are more than 50 registered Haitian political parties. An estimated
                  50,000 candidates will run for local offices alone.

                  The United States has earmarked $10 million to $15 million for electoral
                  assistance. Last month, the U.S. Agency for International Development
                  disbursed $3.5 million to pay for photo voter identity cards.

                    Copyright 1999 The Associated Press