Haitian president agrees to new elections
PORT-AU-PRINCE -- (AP) -- President Rene Preval has signed a law
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
to nullify the 1997 election, and there were fears he would not publish the new
A new Parliament would ratify a premier and Cabinet chosen by
January, he effectively fired Parliament, which had a majority from Smarth's party,
and then appointed his own premier by decree.