BY DON BOHNING
Haiti's long-delayed elections were in trouble again Friday after
Preval challenged the authority of the country's electoral council to set the dates.
In airport comments Thursday, before departing for Guadeloupe
and a Caribbean
summit with French President Jacques Chirac, Preval complained that he first
heard about the new election dates via radio and said only he had the authority
officially to announce them.
The electoral council announced Wednesday that the first round
of voting for
parliamentary and municipal posts would be held April 9, with runoff elections
May 21. Elections had been scheduled for March 21 and April 30, but
organizational disarray forced their postponement.
Preval accused the electoral council of not showing even ``minimal
announcing the dates without consulting him. Other Haitian sources said,
however, that he had met with the electoral council Saturday and was aware in
advance of the dates announced Wednesday.
Whatever the case, analysts in Washington and in Haiti said Friday
chances of the vote being held on the dates announced by the electoral council
had diminished considerably.
Preval's comments reinforced opposition suspicion that he is working
with former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who is thought to prefer combined
parliamentary and presidential elections later in the year.
Aristide is generally viewed as the likely winner of the presidential
probably would benefit from the coat-tail effect of combined elections, giving him a
better chance at a parliamentary majority.
Apart from the political considerations, however, there is considerable
both inside and outside Haiti, that credible elections can be organized by April 9,
given the organizational and logistical problems.
Copyright 2000 Miami Herald