PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI, DEC. 8 -- A general strike, called to press the military government to return control of the electoral process to an independent board, left most stores shuttered for the second day here. But adherence slackened in factories.
Traffic, usually snarled, was light again today in the center of this capital with a population of 1.2 million.
Haitians in the streets were still befuddled about the strike's objectives, and merchants whose doors were open today said they agreed with the goals of the two-day protest, due to end tonight.
Constant Ronancourt, the salesman at a dimly lit hardware store with voodoo figurines dangling from the shelves, said he was closed yesterday but open today because he heard a truckers' union ended its strike last night.
That union's representatives said yesterday they would pull out of the 48-hour strike because they want a more militant left-wing program. The strike is supported by four mainstream candidates for president from the Nov. 29 elections, which were blocked by terrorist attacks.
One stated goal is to force the ruling National Government Council, headed by Gen. Henri Namphy, to reinstate a nine-man electoral board that it dissolved Nov. 29 after the elections collapsed.
In an industrial park on the edge of town, where thousands of jobs are concentrated, a majority of workers showed up despite a downpour. "I think the strike's over," said manager Eddy Jules at Haiti Fashions, a shirt factory. About three-quarters of Jules' employes reported for work.
In contrast to the first day of the strike, few Army troops patrolled the streets today.
In an unexpected move, Haiti's Supreme Court added its name to a list of five other institutions that have refused to name a representative to the new electoral board that the government council hopes to form, sources close to the court said today.
Eleven of the 12 justices met last Thursday and voted unanimously not to name anyone to replace Pierre Labissiere, their representative on the original board. In a letter to the government council, the justices said only that they could not find a qualified replacement, the sources said.
The justices' decision was surprising because they all were appointed by the late dictator Francois Duvalier or his son, Jean-Claude. Most observers had expected them to side with the government, which hopes that the new electoral board will have some credibility.
It now appears that out of nine nominating institutions, only the government council and one other institution close to it will agree to name members to the new board.