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Haiti Revokes Election Decree to End Protests

July 03, 1987|From Times Wire Services

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The government Thursday night revoked an election decree that had triggered nationwide protests in which at least 14 people were reported killed and 82 wounded.

An official statement read over national television gave no reasons for rescinding the June 23 decree, which was issued 10 days ago and gave the government virtual control of upcoming local and presidential elections.

The decree had taken responsibility away from an independent electoral council, which was established by a new constitution that was overwhelmingly approved in a March 29 referendum.

The fight over electoral rules provoked what diplomats said was the most serious political crisis for Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy's interim government since dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier was driven into exile in February, 1986.

The statement said that the independent Provisional Electoral Council is drafting a new law to administer the elections.

Mayors and rural councils are to be elected Aug. 23 and an election for president and a National Assembly has been scheduled for Nov. 27.

It also said that Minister of Information Jacques Lorthe had resigned. Lorthe caused a storm last week when he told a news conference, "Whether the decree is unconstitutional or not does not concern us."

Earlier on Thursday, witnesses and hospital officials said four people were killed and 17 others injured as anti-government protests erupted for the third time this week as the second 48-hour general strike took effect, shutting down the capital of Port-au-Prince.

At least 10 people were reported killed and 65 were wounded in clashes with troops Monday and Tuesday during the first 48-hour stoppage.

Thursday's reversal came after a meeting between Namphy, leader of the three-man National Governing Council, and the nine-member independent electoral council.

The council had issued a statement following the meeting saying that "tangible progress" had been made but did not elaborate.

Strikers have been seeking repeal of the decree, as well as demanding that the government rescind an order dissolving a labor federation that organized a one-day strike for higher wages last week.

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