The Miami Herald
March 25, 1999

Haitian leader appoints new government

             PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- (AP) -- Haiti's president created a government by
             decree today, a move aimed at ending nearly two years of political impasse and
             regaining the confidence of the United States and other nations.

             The new government will be able to organize elections in a country where
             allegations of fraudulent vote-counting and rigged ballots have prompted most
             parties to boycott the electoral process.

             Many major political parties objected to Rene Preval's move as dictatorial.

             ``The government is 95 percent within the sphere of influence of Preval'' and
             former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, said Claude Roumain. He is the leader of
             one of five opposition parties that signed a March 6 pact approving the formation
             of a new government and provisional electoral council.

             None of the parties has members in the new 15-member Cabinet. Nor does the
             Struggling People's Organization party, which held a majority in the previous

             The new Cabinet includes two ministers from the former government, Finance
             Minister Fred Joseph and Foreign Relations Minister Fritz Longchamps, and four
             who were ministers under Aristide, Preval's mentor and predecessor.

             Haiti has been without an effective government since June 1997, when Premier
             Rosny Smarth of the Struggling People's Organization resigned, charging Preval
             helped rig April elections to favor Aristide candidates.

             Smarth's party demanded new elections and a new electoral council, and rejected
             three of Preval's choices for premier to try to force him to act on their demands.

             Instead, Preval dissolved the Parliament by decree on Jan. 11, saying legislators'
             terms had expired, and appointed Premier Jacques-Edouard Alexis premier by
             decree. Under the constitution, Parliament is supposed to ratify the president's
             choice of a prime minister who is answerable to the Parliament, which can fire him.
             Now, he answers to Preval.

             Dismissed legislators have appealed to the international community not to
             recognize what Rep. Vasco Thernalan, former president of the Chamber of
             Deputies, called Alexis' ``de facto government.''

             ``Preval has created a government that stands on no legal basis,'' former
             independent Sen. Samuel Madistin said.

             But the United Nations and the United States, the main international players in
             Haiti who have been embarrassed by the unraveling of their project to build
             democracy in the Caribbean nation, likely will welcome today's announcement.

             International approval would unblock millions of dollars in much-needed foreign
             aid for Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world.

             Foreign investors scared away by the crisis likely will take a wait-and-see attitude.
             Most political parties have said they would boycott elections because they were
             not consulted about members of a new provisional electoral council that Preval
             appointed March 16.

             They say they fear elections again will be rigged to ensure a victory for Aristide
             and his Lavalas Family Party. Legislative elections likely will be held this year. A
             presidential election is scheduled in 2000.

             Preval was Aristide's premier in September 1991, when the army staged a bloody
             coup. Three years later, 20,000 U.S. troops intervened to restore the
             democratically elected government. Aristide backed Preval in 1995 elections
             because the constitution bars presidents from running for consecutive terms.