HREE more key steps are under way in the process of restoring democratic rule to Haiti:
* Today in Washington, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti's exiled president, is expected to swear in Haitian businessman Robert Malval as the Caribbean nation's new prime minister. Mr. Malval and his programs finally were confirmed by Haiti's two-chamber parliament last week after lengthy and controversial debate.
* In accord with the July 3 agreement between President Aristide and Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras, the Haitian military leader who led the September 1991 coup that ousted Aristide, the United Nations Security Council voted Aug. 27 to suspend UN economic sanctions against Haiti after Malval was confirmed by the Haitian parliament. The sanctions covered all trade and a freeze on Haiti's assets abroad. Only food and medicine were exempted.
Haitians have keenly felt the results of sanctions, losing most electricity and telephone service. The first tanker carrying fuel oil arrived in the Caribbean nation on Saturday.
Under the accord, the sanctions will not be lifted formally until Aristide returns to office Oct. 30. The sanctions can be reimposed at any time until then, if UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, after conferring with his counterpart at the Organization of American States, determines that Haitian authorities have failed to comply with other parts of the agreement.
* The Security Council early this week is expected to authorize the deployment of up to 567 civilian police monitors for Haiti in accord with a request from Mr. Boutros-Ghali. The Council also will authorize the dispatch of military training teams and construction engineers. The new UN mission, which is expected to draw heavily on the United States for military and engineering experts, will be charged with helping to create a new and separate police force for Haiti and to aid in restructuring and moderni zing Haiti's armed forces.
"These are three important and very encouraging steps.... But some difficult obstacles still lie ahead," cautions Robert Pastor, director of Latin American programs at Emory University's Carter Center in Atlanta and a leader in organizing monitoring efforts in Haiti's election.
The UN actively brokered the July 3 agreement, and UN Security Council President Madeleine Albright, US ambassador to the UN, says it appears that Haiti so far qualifies as one of the UN's "success stories." She terms the UN sanctions a "critical tool," which was used in a "flexible" way to promote democracy in Haiti's case.
Clinton administration officials also deserve a major piece of the credit for devoting so much energy and muscle to the multilateral effort to return democracy to Haiti, says David Scott Palmer, director of Latin American Studies at Boston University. "They've achieved more success than I thought they could."
Still, Dr. Palmer agrees with Dr. Pastor that "Haiti still has a long way to go" before it is again democratic. Haiti's parliament still must act on a number of issues before Aristide's return. The lawmakers are expected to recess for three months in September, which may require Malval to call a special legislative session.
"My guess is that Haiti's Congress has more than one trick up its sleeve between now and October," Palmer says. He points to what he calls the lawmakers' lengthy and deliberate avoidance of a quorum in the Malval confirmation process as an indicative past example.
Pastor, a political science professor at Emory, says he has always thought that the confirmation of a Haitian prime minister and UN suspension of sanctions would be easily achieved.
He says he is surprised they took two months rather than one or two weeks. He thinks the most difficult problem will center on Haiti's police and military forces and the retirement of top officials there - steps still to come.
Pastor says he also is concerned that the de facto regime in Haiti, while in principle approving the idea of police and military advisers, may yet try to keep the outsiders from coming to Haiti.