[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
24848: Chamberlain (news) Delaying Haiti vote could spark chaos, says UN envoy
Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Joseph Guyler Delva
WASHINGTON, Apr 21 (Reuters) - Postponing a presidential election
planned in Haiti this year would just trigger more instability, the U.N.
envoy to the troubled Caribbean country said on Thursday.
A recent spate of violence in the poorest country in the Americas has
raised doubts that the election to replace ex-President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide, who was forced out by an armed revolt last year, can be held as
planned in November.
But Juan Gabriel Valdez, who heads a U.N. mission to stabilize Haiti,
said postponing the vote would be the worst scenario possible.
"These elections are crucial for Haiti's future, their postponement
could trigger more insecurity and destabilization," Valdez told Reuters
during a visit to Washington on Thursday.
More than a year after Aristide was bundled into exile, Haiti is
plagued with rampant gang and political violence that has killed at least
670 people since September last year.
A 7,400-strong U.N. peacekeeping force is trying to help the interim
government stabilize a country with a long history of violence.
The election for a new president is set for Nov. 13, with a possible
runoff on Dec. 18. Voters are also called to elect thousands of local
government officials and legislators in elections in October and November.
But many Haitians believe illegal armed groups who could disrupt the
voting should be disarmed first.
"Disarmament is a process that will probably take years, it cannot be
a prerequisite for Haiti to hold elections," Valdez said, but added the
U.N. would boost disarmament efforts.
The U.N. mission in Haiti has called on international donors to
contribute $20 million to help implement a plan to disarm, demobilize and
rehabilitate former soldiers. Some of the rebels who helped push Aristide
out are members of Haiti's long-disbanded military, and still wield power
in parts of the country.
Valdez also expressed dissatisfaction with the pace of efforts toward
a dialogue among all of the country's disparate political forces that would
help pave the way for peaceful and fair elections.
"That dialogue is crucial to bolster confidence in the process that
should lead to inclusive elections," said Valdez,
Aristide, in exile in South Africa, was viewed as a champion of
democracy in Haiti when he was first elected in 1990. But much of his first
term was spent in exile after a coup, and after his re-election in 2000, he
was increasingly charged with corruption and mismanagement.