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25347: (news) Chamberlain: Haiti - IC pins hope on elections this year (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
(New York Times, 10 June 05)
Despite Grimness, Foreign Aides See Hope for Ballot in Haiti
By GINGER THOMPSON
PORT-AU-PRINCE -- Despite clear failures by the police and 8,000 United
Nations peacekeepers to make the streets
here safe from violent gangs, Assistant Secretary of State Roger F. Noriega
and special envoys from Canada, France and Brazil
expressed confidence during a visit here on Thursday that Haiti's political
transition was on course. They said they expected
national elections to be held in four months, as planned.
"We want to send a strong message," said Ambassador Daniel Parfait of
France. "We want elections in Haiti. And we want them to
happen on time. We know that the elections will not change everything, but
without them, nothing will change."
More than a year after an armed rebellion and the departure of President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide for exile, there have been no
improvements in the quality of life for most Haitians - no reconciliation
among disparate political factions, no end to the
In recent months, entire neighborhoods and major roads have fallen under
the control of criminal gangs who have unleashed a wave
of killings, kidnappings and robberies.
National elections are to begin in October, but infighting has crippled the
Haitian agency charged with organizing the vote. A
United Nations official helping the government organize the elections said
fewer than 100,000 of the 4 million potential voters
had been registered. Fewer than a quarter of the registration centers
needed have been opened. There are no clear candidates or
Still, the biggest obstacle seemed to be the rampant insecurity. The United
Nations forces, led by Brazil, have been widely
criticized for failing to crack down on the street gangs and drug
traffickers in the slums.
An editorial on Sunday in The Washington Post reported that the United
States Embassy here had requested that the Bush
administration send a battalion of marines to help the United Nations fight
Neither Ambassador James B. Foley nor Mr. Noriega would say whether the
United States was considering sending troops. But Mr.
Noriega urged the United Nations to get tough.
"We regard it as extremely important that the United Nations take the
necessary measures to fulfill their mandate," Mr. Noriega
said. "It is urgent that they respond to the wave of violence and to the
insecurity to assure the Haitian people that they are