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HAITI
Aristide misses OAS deadline
11/21/2002
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Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s government missed the Nov. 4 deadline set by the Organization of American States (OAS) for carrying out reforms aimed at ending the country’s two-year political impasse (LP, Sept. 23, 2002). OAS Resolution 822, passed two months earlier, was a last-ditch effort to end a bitter power struggle between Aristide’s ruling Lavalas Family party and the opposition parties of the Democratic Convergence.

The battle began after fraud-marred elections in May and July 2000 (LP, July 31, 2000). Since then, the OAS has sent more than 20 monitoring missions to the country.

The Aristide government was supposed to implement a series of measures outlined in the resolution, including a disarmament campaign, the arrest of those involved in mob attacks on opposition party members and headquarters after a shootout at the National Palace last Dec. 17 (LP, Dec. 31, 2001) and payment of reparations, steps to improve the country’s poor human rights record and security situation, and the establishment of a nine-member Provisional Electoral Council to oversee elections next year.

Opposition political parties, churches, human rights organizations and the private sector would be represented on the electoral council, but most of those groups have said they would not name representatives until the government fulfills all the OAS requirements.

Such compliance seems far from reality. A recent meeting of justice and peace representatives from more than 100 parishes called the government’s disarmament campaign "demagogic," and a National Police spokesman admitted in late October that the first phase of the process had been a failure.

No arrests have been made in connection with the events of Dec. 17, few reparations have been paid out and the security and human rights situations have not improved. Human rights, church and business organizations announced on Nov. 4 that they were willing to give Aristide 15 more days to meet the requirements. The OAS made no immediate comment.

Meanwhile, the country is facing the social and economic consequences of the political squabbling (LP, April 8, 2002). Desperate refugees continue to take to leave the country by boat, and the local currency, the gourde, lost 25 percent of its value in the second half of October.

 


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