February 4, 1999
Haitian Leader Fails to Meet Deadline to Name Election Board


          By REUTERS

          PORT-AU-PRINCE -- Haitian President Rene Preval, whose decision to rule without
          parliament sparked a run of street violence last month, failed to meet his own deadline to name
          a new election council before Wednesday.

          Hours after Preval told his nation that he needed more time, United Nations Security Council
          members Wednesday urged the Caribbean nation's squabbling political leaders to overcome their
          differences and pave the way for early elections by setting up a credible electoral council.

          In January, following months of stalemate in negotiations with the opposition-dominated parliament,
          Preval sent most lawmakers home, announcing that their terms had expired along with the terms of
          most mayors across impoverished Haiti.

          He promised then to name by Feb. 2 a board that would prepare for a new round of elections.

          But in a televised speech late on Tuesday after a meeting with opposition leaders, Preval told the
          nation he needed more time to create a credible body to organize the next vote.

          "The food is not yet cooked," Preval said, speaking in Creole during the address. "Rather than give
          food that is only warm, we prefer to take a little more time to sit and talk in order to create a good

          The CEP (Provisional Electoral Council) is a nine-member council required by Haiti's constitution to
          organize and control elections.

          The hemisphere's poorest nation and a fragile democracy ruled for decades by dictators, Haiti last
          held an election in April 1997. Only 5 percent of eligible voters participated in the vote for municipal
          and legislative offices and allegations of vote fraud prevented the winners from taking their seats.

          That vote helped spur the resignation of then-Prime Minister Rosny Smarth in June 1997.

          Since then, parliament had rejected Preval's first three nominees for prime minister, creating a
          political crisis that blocked most government programs and held up millions of dollars in badly
          needed international aid.

          The crisis came to a head with Preval's Jan. 11 speech sending the legislators home and installing his
          latest nominee, Jacques Edouard Alexis, as prime minister without parliament's approval.

          The speech was followed by demonstrations by his supporters and those of his opponents, who
          charged him with attempting to establish himself as Haiti's dictator. Hours after the speech, assailants
          staged a daylight attack on Preval's sister's car, killing her chauffeur and leaving her seriously

          Preval denied Tuesday night that he was seizing power.

          "We are not going back to dictatorship ... It is democracy we are building," Preval said.

          Alexis had promised last month that he would name his new Cabinet ministers Feb. 2, the same day
          Preval was expected to announce the creation of an electoral council. But he also failed to meet that

          Preval said Tuesday he considered elections the only way to bring Haiti out of the crisis that has
          polarized the country. He said he would continue negotiations with opposition groups to create a
          nonpartisan and trustworthy electoral body.

          Preval also said he would ask for international and national election observers, but did not say when
          he thought elections might be held.

          After closed-door consultations in New York that included a briefing by the U.N. secretariat on
          Haiti, U.N. Security Council President Michel Duval said members expressed concern about the
          electoral and political impasse and were "prepared to support a credible, fair and transparent
          electoral process leading to early legislative and local elections."

          The council also praised "the professionalism of the Haitian National Police in keeping civil order in
          this period of political tension."

          Haiti has been ruled by dictators during most of its history, including military coup leaders ousted by
          the United States in 1994 after three years in power. The 1994 occupation by a U.S.-led
          multinational force restored Haiti's first freely elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

          Preval, an Aristide protege, succeeded the former populist priest as president in 1996.

                     Copyright 1999 The New York Times Company