Haitian Leader Steps Into Crisis
By The Associated Press
Haiti (AP) -- Haitian President Rene Preval has
appointed a new electoral council, a widely anticipated move to resolve a
political crisis that has paralyzed the government for nearly two years.
In a radio broadcast
Tuesday, Preval named a nine-member provisional
council to organize new legislative elections.
Haiti has not
had a properly functioning government since Premier Rosny
Smarth resigned in June 1997, charging that partial legislative elections
held two months before were rigged to favor former President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Preval's mentor.
People's Organization party a week ago denounced
his moves to appoint a new council and indicated it would boycott any
elections set up by the new council.
That could lead to an election sweep by Aristide's party.
Smarth's party long have accused Preval of deliberately
creating a crisis in Haiti in a bid to ensure Aristide's return to power.
of the new council were nominated by five political
parties with whom Preval reached an agreement. Preval chose the rest.
None of the five
parties that made the agreement had legislators in the
previous Parliament, which Preval dismissed in January. He acted after
the Parliament, with a majority from Smarth's party, had rejected four of
his nominations for a new prime minister.
Preval then named his own premier, Jacques-Edouard Alexis.
has cost the country hundreds of millions in foreign aid and
has frightened away foreign investors.
But several parties
that for years have boycotted elections because of
alleged fraud are unlikely to change their minds because of Preval's
Nor is Preval
likely to rally Haitian voters. Haitians, disappointed that
promised democracy has not brought prosperity, have come out in fewer
and fewer numbers as the economy has slumped to ever-lower levels.
More than 90
percent turned out to elect Aristide as Haiti's first
democratically elected leader in 1989. He was ousted by a military coup
and was restored only when 20,000 U.S. troops intervened in 1994.
Fewer than 30 percent of voters turned out to elect Preval in 1995. Last
year, only 5 percent voted.