26 March 2014- Upcoming elections in Haiti signal stability and progress for the long troubled country.
Sandra Honoré, the head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), addressed the Security Council and hailed an “unprecedented step in Haitian political history.” She says that Haiti is at a turning point where peace, security and stability must be sustained through the consolidation of the democratic process, the rule of law, good governance and better support for the needs of the population. The conclusion of the El Rancho Accord, formally signed on 14 March, stipulates that one election will be held this year combining local, municipal and partial senatorial elections with those foreseen for the end of 2014.
In addition, key provisions to be implemented within a ten-day timeframe are: amendment of the Electoral Law to confer the appropriate mandate upon the electoral council; replacement of up to one member of the electoral council by each of the three powers of the State; and a cabinet reshuffle to include individuals drawn from interested political parties.
“The long-awaited adoption and promulgation of the Electoral Law in December 2013, along with the March 14th Accord emanating from the inter-Haitian dialogue, have prepared a path toward inclusive and transparent elections to be held later this year,” she said. In order to ensure the application of these measures MINUSTAH is engaging Haiti’s key political actors.
The security situation has remained stable, even in the five departments vacated by MINUSTAHs military components. However, she stressed the need for the national police to be strengthened. As for the economic situation there is reason for “cautious optimism and renewed hope”. Yet the government must still seek to close the remaining temporary camps and find durable housing solutions for those that had been displaced.
Ms. Honoré has also addressed the issue of cholera in the country. “While the number of suspected cholera cases has been reduced significantly every year from 352,033 cases in 2011 to 58,608 cases in 2013, more needs to be done since Haiti still has the highest number of cholera cases in the world,” she continued, adding that delivering and sustaining better health requires an urgent, scaled up effort to combat the disease and address decades of under-investment in basic systems for safe water, hygiene, sanitation and healthcare.
Finally, Ms. Honoré emphasized that the gains made in the stabilization of Haiti should be preserved. She also underlined the importance for the Government of Haiti, with the support of MINUSTAH, to continue to make progress in the areas of police development, electoral capacity building, rule of law and human rights, and on key governance issues.
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