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26184: (news) Chamberlain: Haiti sets presidential election for November (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Haiti on Monday set
presidential elections for November and the main opposition party of ousted
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide said it had mended its schism and would
The president of Haiti's electoral council, Max Mathurin, said the
first round of the presidential and legislative elections will take place
on Nov. 20, with a run-off on Jan. 3 if needed. A ballot to elect local
government officials was set for Dec. 11.
"We wish to say it loud and clear for the incredulous that these
elections will take place as scheduled, so we invite everyone to join the
process," said Mathurin.
The two rival factions of Aristide's Lavalas Family party, which had
been fighting over whether to take part in the election, have reunited and
resolved to participate in the ballot, they said. But they set conditions.
Sen. Gerald Gilles of the party's moderate faction said all political
prisoners should be released first, including Gerard Jean-Juste, the parish
priest unanimously presented as the party's presidential candidate.
"Political persecutions should end, political exiles should be allowed
to return as a result of a process of national dialogue and
reconciliation," Gilles said.
Aristide fled Haiti in 2004 amid an armed revolt and is exiled in
South Africa. During a joint news conference, representatives of the two
factions played a tape of Aristide urging Haitians to register to vote and
expressing solidarity with Jean-Juste.
A spokesman for the party's radical faction, Rene Momplaisir, said the
party was now united around the goal of winning the elections.
"We'll go to the election as one and strong party. We call on the
population to massively go and register," said Momplaisir, a spokesman for
the party's grass-roots organizations in the slum of Cite Soleil.
"Our participation will depend on the de facto government. If they
continue to refuse to release the political prisoners, that include several
of our candidates, they will then decide to exclude us," said Momplaisir.
The interim government arrested Jean-Juste in July on suspicion he had
played a role in the kidnapping and murder of a journalist. He denied the
accusations and said he was in Miami when the crime was committed. Like
other senior Lavalas figures now imprisoned, he has said the accusations
are politically motivated.
Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue said on Monday his
administration had no authority to release prisoners, which is a judicial
matter, and rejected allegations that hundreds of Aristide supporters had
"The government won't give in to any pressure, when it comes to issues
pertaining to judicial authorities," said Latortue, whose government has
come under pressure to release Aristide allies.