The Miami Herald
July 18, 1999

 Haitian president agrees to new elections

 PORT-AU-PRINCE -- (AP) -- President Rene Preval has signed a law nullifying a
 controversial 1997 election and paving the way for a new vote, possibly leading to
 the resolution of a political crisis that has crippled the country for two years.

 The law, which Preval and the provisional electoral council signed Friday at a
 ceremony in the National Palace, will become official with its publication in the
 official state gazette Le Moniteur, probably by Monday.

 The electoral decree lays out the organization and supervision of local and
 legislative elections scheduled for November and December.

 It also stipulates that the entire 83-seat lower house, 19 seats of the 27-seat
 upper house, 133 mayoral posts and hundreds of local consultative assemblies
 will be contested.

 That provision effectively nullifies the April 1997 election at the root of the power
 struggle that has paralyzed Haiti since Premier Rosny Smarth resigned in June

 Smarth's party accused Preval of helping rig the election to favor the party of the
 president's mentor, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Two Aristide
 candidates won Senate seats in that election, which monitors from the
 Organization of American States agreed was flawed.

 Although he signed the law, Preval has criticized the electoral council's decision
 to nullify the 1997 election, and there were fears he would not publish the new
 elections law.

 A new Parliament would ratify a premier and Cabinet chosen by Preval. In
 January, he effectively fired Parliament, which had a majority from Smarth's party,
 and then appointed his own premier by decree.