NEW YORK: The Government of Haiti has made progress towards the holding of elections critical for the country’s stability and development, according to Sandra Honoré, special representative of the UN secretary-general and Head of the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
While presenting the secretary-general’s report on MINUSTAH to the UN Security Council last week in New York, Honoré said Haiti had made “measurable gains towards the holding of long-overdue elections” by the end of 2015, despite the uncertainty caused by the absence of a functioning Parliament.
The first-round vote has been scheduled for August 9, setting the stage for legislative, presidential and local elections to be held this year.
“The prerequisites for the holding of elections this year have been established,” said Honoré. “I call on all political actors to continue a genuine dialogue and a transparent and consultative approach that contributes to building confidence among all stakeholders.”
The UN and Haiti’s international partners are working with the Haitian Electoral Council to organize fair, inclusive and transparent elections that will bring out the installation of the country’s 50th legislature in January 2016 and a handover of power to a newly elected president in February 2016.
The UN mission is mandated by the Security Council to provide logistical support and technical expertise to assist Haiti’s government to continue building the capacity of its rule of law institutions at the national and local level.
Honoré said the country’s security situation had remained “relatively stable” during the reporting period despite a recent increase in crime and public unrest. At the same time, most public protests giving voice to socioeconomic grievances have been small in size and had taken place “without major incidents”.
She said the international community and the Haitian government must sustain their commitment towards speeding up the development of the country’s national police in order to guarantee Haiti’s “enduring stability”.
The UN envoy said that recent developments in the area of rule of law were reassuring amid a push to reform Haiti’s 179-year-old criminal law framework and an initiative to decrease prolonged pre-trial detention.
Meanwhile, the nation has registered a drastic reduction in the number of reported cholera cases, down from a peak of over 350,000 in 2011 to 27,753 in 2014. The country has continued to make progress in relocating those made homeless by the devastating earthquake that struck on January 12, 2010.
“The lingering epidemic and high levels of other water-borne and vector-borne diseases will persist until gaps in infrastructure and services are definitely closed,” said Honoré.
The 2010 earthquake, which killed 200,000 people, damaged much of the country’s infrastructure. Five years later, some three million Haitians still remain unsure about where their next meal will come from, according to the UN. Because of its geography, Haiti is highly prone to natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, landslides and droughts. Poverty means that even moderate shocks can push people into hunger.
Honoré said that drought in some areas of the country had resulted in reduced crop production in 2014, impacting 600,000 people with severe food insecurity and that UN humanitarian efforts would continue in order “to strengthen the continuum from recovery to development”.