'A lot of things unsettled' for Haiti vote
OAS official fails in latest effort to resolve growing political crisis
BY DON BOHNING
A senior OAS official left Haiti on Saturday, failing in yet another
resolve a deepening political crisis but refusing to say the effort had collapsed
despite the approach of controversial Nov. 26 presidential elections.
``I'm leaving without an overall agreement, with a lot of things
unsettled but with
the outlines of a new direction and with a remarkable amount of goodwill
beginning to develop,'' Luigi Einaudi, assistant secretary general of the
Organization of American States, said Saturday in a telephone interview from
``There is a greater realism among the parties about the need
to find a democratic
solution for Haiti's future,'' he said.
Einaudi said he would report to the OAS Permanent Council in Washington
Monday and did not rule out the prospect of returning to Haiti again. His most
recent trip, which he extended by two days, was his third to Haiti in a month.
``I don't think it [his effort] has collapsed,'' said Einaudi.
``That's too harsh a
judgment. ``We did gather agreement around broad principles and people are
talking. A lot could happen in the next couple of weeks.''
He did say, however, that for his return, ``the conditions have
to be very clear. I
came down this time to make some things happen. I have made some things
happen, but I'm not coming down in that spirit again.''
The ongoing crisis, stemming from disputed May 21 Senate elections,
the credibility of the November presidential vote and threatens to convert Haiti into
an international pariah.
The controversy pits the organized political opposition against
the government of
President René Preval and the Family Lavalas party of former President
EASY WIN EXPECTED
Aristide is expected easily to win the Nov. 26 vote, which Haiti's
opposition is boycotting, and return to the presidency on Feb. 7, 2001, for another
five-year term. He is running against six unknown candidates who have no
political party base.
A pro-Aristide electoral council had given his candidates first-round
victories in 18
of 19 Senate seats on the ballot, despite the fact that an OAS electoral observer
mission said 10 of the seats should have gone into a second-round runoff.
The opposition is demanding annulment of the May 21 vote and suspension
new Aristide-dominated parliament seated in August.
When he departed Saturday for Washington, Einaudi left behind
a six-point draft
document entitled ``Elements of Reflection for a National Accord.''
The document dealt with security, the May 21 elections, conditions
for the Nov.
26 elections, restructuring of the Provisional Electoral Council, measures to
reinforce democracy and the role of the international community.
SECURITY A KEY ISSUE
Had a comprehensive agreement been reached, it is likely that
the Nov. 26
election would have been delayed until Dec. 17, but with the Feb. 7 inauguration
date holding firm.
There was, said Einaudi, broad agreement on measures for improving
and reinforcement of democracy, such as protection of freedom of expression,
journalists, political parties and society.
The stickiest point still evolves on how to resolve the May 21
election dispute. The
draft document called for the naming of an independent commission to examine
the election and come up with an acceptable solution.
``'There was also a surprising amount of agreement on what a new
electoral council should look like,'' said Einaudi. And, for the first time, he said he
managed to arrange five face-to-face meetings between representatives of
Aristide's party and the opposition, with Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis
attending as an observer.
If the Nov. 26 elections go ahead as scheduled, without opposition
the Clinton administration has already said it would not financially support the
elections or an international observer mission. In addition, all aid to Haiti would be
channeled through nongovernmental organizations. The United States would look
closely at all assistance to Haiti provided by multilateral financial institutions.