Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Haiti: OAS Examines Preparations for Second Round of Elections in Haiti

Source: Organization of American States (OAS)

The Group of Friends of Haiti at the Organization of American States (OAS) received the reports of the Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, and Assistant Secretary General, Albert Ramdin, on their recent meetings with leaders and representatives in the region concerning the current situation and future of the Caribbean country with respect to the reconstruction efforts and election monitoring there. In that context, at the meeting of the Group held on Monday at OAS Headquarters in Washington, D.C., the preparations were reviewed for the second round of the Haitian elections scheduled for March 20, in which the joint OAS-CARICOM Electoral Observation Mission will again take part.

At the meeting, which was attended by member states and observer countries of the Organization, as well as representatives of other inter-American organizations, Secretary General Insulza talked about the atmosphere of calm that would hopefully prevail in the second round, as well as the expectations for the poll. "There will be no problem for people to go and vote but that does not mean that the wounds of the first round have healed. We have to be realistic about this," he said.

The OAS's senior representative echoed the main concerns voiced by CARICOM leaders, whom he recently met, especially as regards problems that might arise after the ballot. Among other matters, he spoke of the need for the country's reconstruction to continue and mentioned the challenge that the new President would face if he or she failed to secure a majority in parliament, "which could hamper the quest for dialogue and consensus, a crucial concern" for the installation of a Prime Minister.

The discouragement in many sectors over the progress of reconstruction plans was another key topic of the talks between Insulza and regional leaders. Secretary General Insulza noted the importance that, "in renewing the MINUSTAH mandate, the Group of Friends of Haiti propose an expansion of the aspects in the area of reconstruction as well as the inclusion of a very clear arrangement for strengthening coordination mechanisms to that end." As to the role that the OAS has played, he observed that although the Organization lacks the resources to take charge of the plans of the Interim Reconstruction Commission, "most of the decisions adopted there will also be analyzed and discussed by our Organization."

Assistant Secretary General Ramdin, meanwhile, who travelled to Haiti and held meetings with President René Préval, presidential candidates Mirlande Manigat and Michel Martelly, representatives of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), members of the private sector and the International community, said the CEP has insisted that it is better prepared for the second round of the election.

According to Assistant Secretary General Ramdin, "CEP officials have told us they are working to improve the lines of communication to provide more accurate information to the electorate about where to vote, ahead of the election itself. Many of the changes that are being made at this point, appear to be in keeping with the recommendations presented in the report of the OAS Expert Verification Mission." However, the OAS official said the CEP has admitted that "some technical issues will make it impossible for all recommendations to be implemented right away."

A strengthened Joint OAS/CARICOM Mission made up of approximately 200 observers will be in Haiti to for the second round of the election. Assistant Secretary General Ramdin said while MINUSTAH has given the assurance that all security systems will be in place to maintain law and order at the polls, that it is also the responsibility of the political candidates, to ensure that supporters maintained an atmosphere conducive to democracy and peace.

At the end of the meeting, the Permanent Representative of Haiti to the OAS, Ambassador Duly Brutus, again expressed his country's gratitude for the support of the international community and drew attention to the peaceful mood there in the run-up to the poll. He referred to the progress of the campaigns of the two presidential candidates, noting that the prevailing atmosphere in them had been one of calm. "We are very optimistic that we will have a good second round, which will help to enhance the legitimacy of the next president, so that they are accepted by all and can tackle the challenges of reconstruction," he said.