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Annan calls Haitians to vote in national elections

Secretary-General calls on Haitians to vote in national elections tomorrow

With national elections taking place in Haiti tomorrow, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan called on the country’s people to exercise peacefully their right to vote and respect the outcome while urging the incoming leadership to show a commitment to reconciliation and inclusiveness.

“These elections offer an opportunity for your country to move away from violence and uncertainty towards a future of peace and stability,” he said in his message to the Caribbean country, which was issued in English, French and Creole.

“I call on all Haitians to participate and exercise peacefully their right to vote,” Mr. Annan said. “Every vote is crucial for the future of Haiti.”

He urged the incoming leadership “to demonstrate commitment to reconciliation and inclusiveness.”

If anyone felt tempted to disrupt the democratic process, the peacekeeping UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) would do all it could to support the Haitian authorities in ensuring that the vote is held in freedom and safety, Mr. Annan said.

“I am confident that these elections will prove a significant step in the work to build a more stable Haiti,” he said. “The international community will continue to support the Haitian people in their endeavour to create strong democratic institutions, underpinned by good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights. On those foundations you can rebuild a nation of which all Haitians can be proud.”

Meanwhile, UN Assistant Secretary-General Hédi Annabi told journalists at UN Headquarters that the responsibility for the elections rested with the Haitians, but he pledged that the UN was extending its full support for that process, including by helping to ensure stability and ensuring a peaceful climate before, during and after the polling.

MINUSTAH “will provide full support to the efforts of the Haitian authorities to ensure a calm environment,” he said. Some 7,500 troops and nearly 800 police in MINUSTAH would undertake extensive patrolling, together with the Haitian National Police, he said, warning that “any attempt to disrupt the democratic process tomorrow will be met with a swift and strong response.”

Most important of all, he said, Haitians must respect the results of the election. “If Haiti is to have a better future, then people must learn to work together and reconcile in the wake of the elections,” he said.

As of today, over 92 per cent of voter cards had been distributed, MINUSTAH reported. Mr. Annabi took this as an indication that “the Haitians have been keen to collect their cards; it shows a determination to engage in the electoral process.”

He acknowledged that the road ahead is strewn with obstacles, but said, “These can be overcome with patience, tolerance and commitment.”

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