[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
26604: (news) Chamberlain: Haiti-Elections (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Nov 17 (AP) -- Haiti's first elections since the ouster
of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide have been postponed for the third time
this year, the interim prime minister said Thursday.
The first round of the legislative and presidential vote will be Dec. 27
followed by a runoff Jan. 31, interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue said
in an interview with The Associated Press.
The presidential elections were originally scheduled for Nov. 13, then
postponed until Nov. 20. The government said they would have to be delayed
again, and Latortue had given timeframe of Dec. 11-18.
The new date is "firm and final," he said.
"We took our time to fix a date, but now we are fully confident we will
achieve good elections," Latortue said. "All the problems have been
anticipated, and we have a solution for each of them."
Haiti's constitution requires the new government to take control Feb. 7,
but the country has struggled to organize the election because of a lack of
equipment and trained poll workers, crumbling infrastructure, and violence
that has made it difficult to register voters.
Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council, which is charged with organizing
the election, was expected to announce the new dates later Thursday.
Rosemond Pradel, the council's general secretary, said the Dec. 27 date had
not yet been confirmed, although it was "the most likely" day for the vote.
Haitian voters will choose from among about 35 candidates for president
and hundreds of candidates for 129 legislative seats.
While the interim government, aided by international organizations,
works to print and distribute ballots and enlist poll workers, the country
is still plagued by violence.
In the slum of Cite Soleil, U.N. troops regained control of a
neighborhood Thursday after a night of clashes with armed gang members who
authorities say are supporters of Aristide. He was forced to flee Haiti in
February 2004 following a violent rebellion.
"Both sides exchanged thousands of bullets," said Lt. Col. Andre Novaes,
the U.N. commanding officer in the zone. "We fought from sunset till dawn."
Boulders and scrap still littered the streets where Novaes said his men
had driven gangs from a series of barricades. The gangs also destroyed a
house the peacekeepers had used as an observation point until they were
forced to flee under heavy fire Wednesday night.
U.N. troops have traded gunfire with the gang members in the Pele
neighborhood of Cite Soleil for more than a week.
The U.N. says its forces have killed five alleged gang members and
arrested nearly 100 people.
Gang leaders, who say they are a self-protection force for slum dwellers
against police and soldiers, say 15 people have been killed -- including
unarmed civilians caught in crossfire.
Cite Soleil, home to about 200,000 people, is one of the most lawless
and violent areas of Haiti. International authorities have pressed the U.N.
forces to crack down on the gangs before the elections.