PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — President Rene Préval has announced November 28 as the date for presidential and legislative elections in this earthquake battered Caricom country.
Préval has also issued a decree mandating the country’s nine-member Provisional Electoral Council to prepare for the presidential elections.
His five-year presidential term ends next February, but the Parliament recently voted to allow him to remain in office until May 14, 2010, exactly five years after he took office, should his successor not be chosen by the constitutional deadline of February 7.
Last month, Préval said that he planned to do everything in his power to ensure that general elections were held before the constitutional deadline.
“If the election results are given before February 7, René Préval will leave February 7, 2011, but René Préval will not take responsibility to show he is irresponsible,” he said.
But he also noted that while the Haitian constitution states that the president must depart office on February 7, it also indicates that the head of state must serve for five years.
Because of delays and controversy in the 2006 presidential elections, Préval did not take office until May 14, 2006 and he said he has no plans to stay beyond next May.
But opposition leaders have been calling for Préval to step down on February 7, stating that an interim government could organise the elections. They accused Préval of reneging on a pledge to leave office in February.
“Préval is showing he has a personal agenda, and it has nothing to do with the interest of the country,” said Evans Paul, an opposition political party leader.
The upcoming general elections are likely to cost US$44 million and last month, delegates attending a donor’s summit in the Dominican Republic discussed ways to finance the elections.
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