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17911: (Chamberlain) Summit-Haiti (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By OLGA R. RODRIGUEZ
MONTERREY, Mexico, Jan 13 (AP) -- Haitian President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide on Tuesday refused to bow to opposition demands for his
resignation but promised legislative elections in the next six months.
Aristide said his government would meet with opposition leaders and
members of the 15-member Caribbean Community in the Bahamas next week at a
gathering monitored by international observers, including Canada.
"Because we respect our friends of the opposition, we want to dialogue
and maybe together with the international community see what will be the
best date for," elections, Aristide said at the Special Summit of the
But opposition leaders said Tuesday they had no plans to meet with
Aristide in the Bahamas and were still refusing to participate in
legislative elections unless he stepped down.
Aristide said an electoral council made up of nine members, including
opposition, civil society and government representatives, was working to
set a date for the elections.
"No meeting is planned," said opposition spokesman Mischa Gaillard.
"Aristide's promise was a maneuver knowing the heads of state want to hear
about democracy and elections."
Anti-government demonstrations in the past four months have left at
least 46 people dead in the impoverished nation and more than 100 wounded.
Both sides blame the other for the violence, but most of the deaths have
been anti-government protesters.
Aristide, the country's first freely elected leader, won by a landslide
but was overthrown in a coup in 1991. He was restored to power in a 1994
U.S. invasion but forced to step down in 1996 due to a term limit.
He won his second term in 2000 and he says he plans to serve until it
ends in 2006. He is barred from running for a third term.