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28429: (news) Chamberlain: Préval names Alexis as PM

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>


   PORT-AU-PRINCE, May 22 (AP) -- Moving quickly to form a new government,
President Rene Preval said Monday he has nominated former Cabinet member
and close ally Jacques Edouard Alexis as prime minister.
   If confirmed by parliament, Alexis would succeed outgoing interim Prime
Minister Gerard Latortue, who was appointed to lead this impoverished
Caribbean nation after an uprising ousted former president Jean-Bertrand
Aristide in February 2004.
   Alexis, who served as prime minister and education minister during
Preval's 1996-2001 presidency, is considered an able broker with the clout
needed to hold sway in Haiti's splintered parliament, which is made up of
members from 16 different parties.
   "Alexis is going to do the Haitian people's work," Preval, who took
power eight days ago, told reporters after meeting with legislators. "He is
trustworthy and knows what he is doing."
   Haitian lawmakers didn't say when they would vote on the nomination.
   Alexis, 58, said he was ready for the job, telling Haitian broadcaster
Radio Metropole that he would work to form "an open government" -- an
apparent indication he would include members from different sectors of
Haiti's fractured society.
   As the official head of government, Alexis would appoint Preval's
Cabinet and most administrative posts.
   Alexis, who like Preval is a trained agronomist, had an icy relationship
with the international community at times during his first term as prime
   When foreign donors threatened to cut off aid to protest flawed
legislative elections in 2000, Alexis likened that move to when Haiti won
independence from France in 1804 and "the international community was
against us."
   Haiti staged the only successful revolt against slavery to became the
world's first black republic. But it was governed by a string of civilian
and military dictatorships.
   Aristide won the first free elections in 1990 but was ousted the
following year in a coup. The United States sent 20,000 troops to restore
   Alexis could also face pressure to bring back Aristide, who took asylum
in South Africa after the 2004 revolt but has said he wants to return to
his homeland.
   Rudy Heriveaux, a senator with Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas party, has said
Aristide supporters helped elect Preval and that there cannot be
reconciliation without the ousted leader's safe return.
   Asked in April about the prospects of Aristide's return, Alexis said he
would be allowed to return but suggested he might have to face allegations
by the U.S.-backed interim government that he stole millions in state
   Aristide "will be able to return to his country but not now. He will
return to Haiti in the not too distant future to answer the facts that are
brought before him," Alexis said.
   The interim government last year filed a federal lawsuit in Miami
accusing Aristide of stealing from the Haitian treasury and state-owned
telephone company. However, no evidence has been brought formally before a
criminal court in Haiti.

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