Four Top Candidates Reject Junta Election Plans; Demand Junta Resign
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ The four main presidential candidates demanded Friday that Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy resign and they rejected his junta’s election plans.
Namphy’s interim government took control of elections when the first free vote in 30 years was stopped after only three hours of balloting Nov. 29 by men with machine guns and machetes who slaughtered 34 people and wounded 75. Soldiers did nothing to stop the killing, and some joined in.
The major presidential candidates, Marc Bazin, Gerard Gourgue, Louis Dejoie and Sylvio Claude, said in their first joint statement:
″The ... measures taken by the government clearly show once again its intention to establish itself in power unconstitutionally, illegally and in total disregard of the public, and to lead the country into catastrophe.″
″The four signed parties ... demand the immediate resignation of the CNG (Governing National Council). ... We have already begun talks to propose an alternate government that could ensure a transition to democracy,″ said the statement, which was broadcast by radio stations Friday.
In a brief message on state-run television Friday night, the junta said it named a new nine-member Electoral Council to supervise elections Jan. 17. None of the appointees appeared to be well-known and no biographical information was given. The three-man junta dissolved the independent Electoral Council that coordinated the Nov. 29 elections during the election-day violence.
The junta named Joseph Azor, a medical doctor; attorneys Jean Gilbert, Frederic Baudin, Max Michaud; agronomist Elie Laroche, and Jean Brito, Lucien Jean Bernard, Samuel Charles, Clement Maurice Barthelmy to the new electoral council.
Azor, 53, said in a telephone interview he did not know why he was chosen and would not say how he was approached for the post.
″I don’t know the criteria used in selecting us, but in my case I know it must be honesty and incorruptibility they were looking for,″ he said. ″If the government tries to influence me, I would resign. It would be easier to kill me than to buy me.″
The four presidential candidates, the Roman Catholic church and members of the previous Electoral Council established as an autonomous agency by the new constitution blamed the election-day carnage on the army. The military has dominated the ruling junta since President Jean-Claude Duvalier fled the country Feb. 7, 1986, ending three decades of family dictatorship.
Namphy dissolved the Electoral Council hours after it halted the Nov. 29 election because of the violence. Civic, political and other organizations that had chosen its nine members refused his request to select replacements, so the general said he would appoint his own council.
He has said adequate security will be provided for the Jan. 17 election. Namphy has promised a new president will be installed on schedule Feb. 7, 1988, the second anniversary of Duvalier’s flight.
Gerard Noel, minister of social affairs and acting information minister, said the government is not concerned about the candidates’ statement, adding that the new election council - not the government - would run the Jan. 17 elections.
Of the candidates, he said: ″They are free to participate or not participate. ... It doesn’t interest the government to know who is a candidate and who isn’t. It’s up to the elections officials to respond, not me.″
It was unclear what effect the joint effort by the four main candidates would have. The junta rarely responds to public pressure and Namphy has given no indication he intends to step down.
That Haitians want an election is shown by the fact that 75 percent of those eligible have registered to vote in a nation that is predominantly illiterate.
Dejoie and Claude had called previously for the resignation of all three junta members, and Bazin and Gourgue had demanded reinstatement of the original Electoral Council.
Dejoie said in an interview Friday morning, ″After 20 months of this government, we see that everything they’ve done has been to prevent the people from voting for their leaders. This country belongs to 6 million people, not to the CNG.″