- Title: HAITI: President Rene Preval postpones presidential elections
- Date: 29th January 2010
- Summary: PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI (JANUARY 27, 2010) (REUTERS) HAITI'S PRESIDENT RENE PREVAL WITH JOURNALISTS (SOUNDBITE) (French) RENE PREVAL, HAITI'S PRESIDENT SAYING: "I have always said the constitution is a problem in relation to the constitution and the stability of the country. We are putting forward proposals for amendments to the constitution so the constitution has already shown how to be amended. Unfortunately, with the problems we are having now, I doubt that elections are possible before the 10th of May and the 49th legislature." PREVAL WITH JOURNALISTS (SOUNDBITE) (French) RENE PREVAL, HAITI'S PRESIDENT SAYING: "So we are going to try to meet different social and political groups to figure out what to do because we can't talk about having elections today when the population is in this situation. That's logical" PREVAL
- Embargoed: 13th February 2010 12:00
- Location: Haiti
- Country: Haiti
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA29PBDFFX65IL55IC87XNHW4UM
- Story Text: Legislative elections in Haiti that were scheduled for February 28 have been indefinitely postponed due to the devastating earthquake, President Rene Preval said on Wednesday (January 27).
"Unfortunately, with the problems we are having now, I doubt that elections are possible before the 10th of May and the 49th legislature," Preval told Reuters.
The offices of the Electoral Council collapsed in the January 12 earthquake, members of the U.N. mission working with the commission were killed and election materials were buried under rubble, he said.
Preval said no new date for the elections had been set but he was talking to different groups to discuss the situation.
"So we are going to try to meet different social and political groups to figure out what to do because we can't talk about having elections today when the population is in this situation. That's logical," he said.
Looking further ahead, Preval said he would not seek to extend his term in office beyond its scheduled conclusion on February 11, 2011. That means his government will have just over one year to rebuild the country before handing off the massive task to new leadership.
As many as 200,000 people were killed in the magnitude 7.0 quake, which largely destroyed the capital, Port-au-Prince, and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless, injured and in need of help.
Ninety-eight of the 99 seats in the legislature's Chamber of Deputies were to be at stake in the February election, along with one-third of the 30-member Senate. The vote for the remaining lower house seat had been set previously for a later date.
Preval said Haiti's constitution sets the date for elections and does not give the president the power to delay a vote, but he noted that electoral events in Haiti often veer from the constitutionally mandated schedule.
For example, Preval said, Haiti's constitution mandated he take office on February 7, 2006, but allegations of electoral fraud delayed his swearing-in until May 14. The constitution also sets the presidential term as five years, but he will not spend five full years in office.
Preval, 67, who trained as an agronomist, also served as president from 1996 through 2001 when he became Haiti's only president to win a democratic election, serve a full term and peacefully hand over power.
He has been criticized since the earthquake for failing to make many public appearances and for what has been seen as his government's failure to be more active in helping its people.
Preval said he has had few ways to appear publicly, with media and electricity out. He also said he had chosen to work hard.
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