Originally: Haitian opposition rejects poll

Haitian opposition rejects poll

The opposition in Haiti has rejected an announcement by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide promising general elections within six months.

Opposition leader Paul Denis reaffirmed that the president had to resign before he would take part in any elections.

But speaking at the Americas summit in Mexico, President Aristide ruled out standing down as a solution to the crisis.

Tensions have been high in Haiti since disputed elections in May 2000.

More than 40 people have been killed in anti-government protests since September

Radio attacks

Opposition spokesman Mischa Gaillard said Mr Aristide’s promise to hold elections was a manoeuvre made at the Mexico summit because other leaders wanted to hear about democracy.

Mr Aristide is currently ruling Haiti by decree after the mandate of most members of parliament ran out. There is now no functioning legislature in the country.

Mr Aristide was re-elected in a disputed presidential election in 2000.

Since then protests against the worsening economic situation in the country and the lack of political dialogue have increased.

On Tuesday, several anti-government radio and television stations suspended operations after being attacked by armed men.

Haitian media reported that the men were looking for the antenna of Radio Caraibes, which government supporters accuse of bias.

The director of one of the independent radio stations affected by the attacks accused the government of involvement.

Violence ‘unacceptable’

On Monday thousands of students marched through the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, in the latest of a series of demonstrations against President Aristide.

Mr Aristide acknowledged the protests in his speech at the summit, but said that the rioting which had marred protests in recent months must end.

“This violence is unacceptable,” he said.

“The students aren’t happy, I am also not happy. They have the right to express their position, but a distinction has to be made between [real] students and false students.”

Mr Aristide has rejected opposition calls to resign and says he will serve out his full term in office, which ends in 2006.