US special coordinator in Haiti for ‘credible, fair elections’

The United States Department of State says its Haiti Special Coordinator Kenneth Merten is currently in the French-speaking Caribbean country to further the U.S. Government support for “credible and fair elections.”

The State Department said that Merten arrived in Haiti on Thursday “to discuss the urgent need for elected representatives at all levels of government.”

Merten will meet with members of the Provisional Electoral Council and other stakeholders key to a return of constitutional order in Haiti, the State Department.

“The United States is committed to Haiti’s long-term democratic development and to retaining its vital humanitarian and development programs that help the Haitian people improve their lives,” the State Department said.

The United Nations and its partners in Haiti over the weekend expressed “deep regret” that for the fourth time in as many weeks the Haiti National Assembly is unable to deliberate on the provisional governance arrangements.

In a joint statement, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Haiti and Head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), Sandra Honoré, and the other members of the international community in Haiti represented in the “Core Group” (the Ambassadors of Brazil, Canada, France, Spain, the United States and the European Union, and the Special Representative of the Organization of American States) cited the “absence of a number of parliamentarians leading to a lack of a quorum” as the reason for the failed deliberations.

“Haiti continues to face serious long-term socio-economic and humanitarian challenges. These challenges cannot be fully addressed in an environment of institutional instability,” said the Core Group, reiterating calls on parliamentarians to resume the session of the National Assembly and to “take action to end the uncertainty that prevails.”

“Reiterating the need to return to constitutional order, the ‘Core Group’ urges all actors to ensure the completion of the electoral process,” the statement added.

On Feb. 14, the Haitian National Assembly elected Jocelerme Privert as the island nation’s interim President, one week after former President Michel Martelly departed without a successor.

Privert served as interim President for 120 days, and an election had been scheduled for April 24, following an agreement – known as the Feb. 5 Agreement – between Haitian stakeholders to preserve institutional continuity and further the electoral process, the UN noted.

Subsequently, on April 25, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesperson issued a statement underlining the UN chief’s deep concern that that the agreed-upon date for holding elections in Haiti was not met and that no alternate electoral calendar was announced.

In June, when Privert’s 120-day interim period had come to an end, the Core Group called on the National Assembly to take action and reach a solution that avoids an “institutional vacuum,” and to facilitate the return to constitutional order through the holding of elections, according to the UN.

On Friday, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, also expressed deep concern over the demonstrated inability of Haitian parliamentarians to meet in the National Assembly to decide on how best to guarantee institutional stability and encourage the continuation of the electoral process.

“Given the importance of the challenges and the serious risks to the country’s stability, it is particularly troubling that the meeting of the National Assembly set for yesterday, July 14, was cancelled, once again, due to a failure to reach quorum,” Almagro said.

“Haiti can no longer afford to be the hostage of dilatory tactics and other ploys,” he added. “The situation is critical. It is time to make a decision that should have been made long ago.

“It is imperative for Haitian political stakeholders, including Parliamentarians and those provisionally governing the country, to fully assume their responsibilities towards the nation,” the OAS Secretary General continued. “The interests of the Haitian people must supersede partisan interests. Every effort should be made for the presidential, legislative and local elections to be held without delay and in a calm atmosphere.”

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