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24183: (pub) Chamberlain: Haiti-Elections (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>


   PORT-AU-PRINCE, Jan 31 (AP) -- Officials Monday announced dates in
October and November for local and national elections to fill a political
vacuum left by last year's ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
   Representatives of Aristide's Lavalas Party have said they will only
participate in elections if the interim government ends what they call the
arbitrary arrest and detention of Aristide loyalists.
   The Provisional Electoral Council said 7,000 local and regional posts
will be contested on Oct. 9, while the election for Haiti's president and
129 legislators will take place on Nov. 13. Elected officials will take
office in January and February 2006.
   Rosemond Pradel, a spokesman for the electoral body, announced the dates
in a decree sent to Haiti's interim government, which is expected to ratify
the decision later this eek.
   So far, 91 political parties have registered with the government with
about 50 more expected to sign up, U.N. elections officer Gerardo Le
Chevallier said. He said about 100 presidential candidates are expected to
   The elections will be financed by $26.5 million in funds from Canada,
the United States, Haiti and the United Nations. The European Union has
pledged an additional $12 million.
   Aristide was toppled Feb. 29 after a three-week revolt led by street
gangs and former soldiers of the army he disbanded in 1995, shortly after
the United States sent troops to restore him to power after a 1991 army
coup. Aristide has accused U.S. forces of kidnapping him and forcing him
from office. The United States has strongly denied the charge.
   Armed ex-soldiers and former rebels who helped overthrow Aristide still
control parts of the country, and violence in pro-Aristide slums has killed
more than 250 people since Sept. 30. Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue
has accused Aristide of coordinating the violence from exile in South
Africa, a claim the former leader denies.