Haiti may postpone presidential vote
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) -- Haiti likely will postpone presidential
elections set for November 26 but will still meet its constitutional deadline to
install a new leader in February, an elections spokesman said on Tuesday.
Samuel Louis-Jean, a spokesman for Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council
said a revised calendar for the presidential elections in the troubled Caribbean
nation would be released on Friday.
"I don't think they will be held on November 26," he told Reuters. "It's
important the elections are held on that date. What date is important, is February
President Rene Preval has said that, no matter what, he will leave office
February 7, the date mandated by Haiti's constitution for the transfer of power.
The United States and European Union have vowed to withhold aid if the
impoverished nation of 7.5 million does not strengthen its democratic institutions
before the November vote.
A delay had been widely expected by Haiti's opposition parties, which called
boycott of the presidential election to protest alleged rigging of the May
parliamentary elections to benefit the ruling Lavalas Family party of former
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
"They are talking about holding the election on December 17," said Ariel
member of opposition party coalition Groupe de Convergence.
Conditions favor Aristade
Registration of new voters was supposed to begin on October 2 but has yet
start. The electoral council finally published an official list of candidates on
Monday, three weeks late.
Seven presidential candidates are on the list -- Aristide and six virtual unknowns.
Five are independents and the sixth, Evans Nicolas, represents the little-known
Union for National Reconstruction party. Another, Protestant pastor Arnold
Dumas, ran for president in 1995 and drew less than 1 percent of the vote.
Two candidates, Paul Arthur Fleurival and Calixte Dorisca, threatened last
to withdraw from the campaign, saying it was not being taken seriously. The
other presidential candidates are Jacques Philippe Dorce and Serge Sylvain.
The lack of a strong challenger, along with a boycott called by most of
opposition parties, virtually guarantees a victory for Aristide, 47.
He was the Caribbean nation's first democratically elected president after
of dictatorship and political instability.
Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest, was ousted in a military coup
months after taking office in 1991 and returned to power by a U.S.-led invasion
in 1994. He was constitutionally barred from running for consecutive terms, and
Preval, his protege, was elected in 1995.
Most opposition parties are boycotting the presidential election to protest
May 21 parliamentary vote. They and international election observers said the
results were miscounted to give Lavalas seats that should have been decided in
The boycott and Haiti's continued use of the electoral council that oversaw
May vote have caused growing concern in the international community.
In addition to choosing the next president, the November election aims
to fill nine
Copyright 2000 Reuters.