President René Préval Dissolves Haitian Parliament

On January 11th, I said that we recognized that the term of some of the Parliamentarians was finished. Some of you were in shock. Many citizens of good faith did not understand and were afraid of a return to dictatorship. So, it was my duty, and it was imperative, to give them an explanation and assure them that we are not going back to dictatorship, but we are moving forward in our democracy. We are building democracy. The fight for democracy under dictatorship is not the same as the fight for democracy within a democratic system. The fight for democracy under dictatorship does not require anyone to respect the law, because the dictatorship system is already against the law. But the fight for democracy within a democratic system requires, above all, respect for the law. ”

— René Préval

A general strike held in Haiti on Jan. 22 closed about 90% of the schools and affected many businesses but didn't succeed in halting the normal flow of traffic; public transportation worked partially. No incidents were reported. [Haiti Online 1/22/99; El Diario-La Prensa 1/23/99 from EFE] The strike was called to protest the Jan. 11 decision by President Rene Preval to dissolve the Parliament; the legislators' terms ended that day, but there had been no agreement on an electoral council to elect their replacements [see Update #468]. The new prime minister, Jacques-Edouard Alexis, announced on Jan. 18 that he had formed a new cabinet but that the names would not be made public until a new electoral council had been formed, within two weeks.