Haitian leader appoints new government
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- (AP) -- Haiti's president created a government
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''
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.