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Opposition Leader Urges New President Be Given a Chance

January 30, 1988

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ Former presidential candidate Thomas Desulme asked other opposition leaders Friday to give the new civilian government a chance to show whether it is able and independent of the military.

His National Labor Party will ″observe a suspension of hostilities ... to forestall a deterioration of the crisis and a return to despotism,″ he said. President-elect Leslie Manigat is to be inaugurated Feb. 7, two years after President Jean-Claude Duvalier fled the country.

Desulme, 75, made a fortune as a manufacturer in Jamaica during two decades of exile while the Duvalier family ruled Haiti, and ran in the Nov. 29 elections organized by an independent Electoral Council. They were canceled within hours because armed gangs, often joined by soldiers, killed at least 34 people and wounded 75.

He joined the four leading presidential candidates in boycotting the Jan. 17 elections organized by the military-run junta of Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, which has governed Haiti since Duvalier.

In a statement issued Friday, Desulme noted his own previous demand that the Jan. 17 vote be annulled because of low voter turnout and irregularities, then declared:

″Now the party finds itself between the choices of a sterile stiffening of our position - demanding the government’s resignation - and a realistic, pragmatic attitude with regard to the unchangeable reality″ that Manigat, a 57-year-old university professor, will be sworn in Feb. 7.

Desulme said Manigat should be given a chance to keep his promises of independence from the army, expanded civil liberties, economic growth and social justice.

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