Haitian Senate Appears Engaged in Ploys to Delay Aristide's Return the Lifting of Sanctions, an End to Gas Lines, and an Infusion of Foreign Capital Hinge on Restoring President Aristide to Power

Article excerpt

ALTHOUGH the signing of the Governor's Island Accord, which guarantees Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide's return, was a major breakthrough in resolving the 22-month-old Haitian crisis, the situation is far from stable here. Human rights violations continue unabated. A political truce agreed to by various political parties has not been respected, and the country is still under a United Nations oil and arms embargo.

The accord sets the president's return for Oct. 30. But it appears that senators supporting the military regime are delaying his return by putting off prerequisites spelled out in the accord. Before Fr. Aristide can return, the parliament has to ratify his choice for prime minister, businessman Robert Malval. In order to ratify Mr. Malval, the Senate, or upper house, must hold an election to choose its own president.

Leandro Despouy, representative for UN Special Envoy Dante Caputo, met with members of both senatorial blocs yesterday to find a solution. US Charge d'Affairs Charles Redman promised $20 million in US aid if the Senate confirms the prime minister by the end of the week.

The problem is not that the Senate doesn't have a president - it's that it has two.

Since the 1991 coup that ousted Aristide, the Senate has been divided into two camps, and each has named its own president. The "Alliance" bloc, former coup supporters, elected Thomas Eddy Dupiton, while the "Anti-Corruption" pro-Aristide bloc, elected Firmin Jean Louis.

Early last week Senator Dupiton announced he would step down, providing Senator Jean Louis would do the same. But Jean Louis has refused to give up his position because he insists he was legitimately elected.

Heightening tensions over the issue are nine Alliance senators who were elected Jan. 18 in what has been widely denounced as rigged elections, and who have since agreed to step down under international pressure. If the Alliance were to win the vote for Senate president, it would be in a position to reinstate the nine senators and gain a majority in parliament to oppose Aristide.

Supporters of Jean Louis's Anti-Corruption bloc have also accused the Alliance of using stalling tactics, including staging the shooting of Senator Dupiton on July 27. …


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