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Haiti’s fragile electoral process shows gains, UN

Haiti’s fragile electoral process shows gains, UN says

With a significant number of voters and with candidates representing a broad range of political opinion gearing up for upcoming elections in Haiti, a credible vote is possible but the Transitional Government must take further measures to ensure success, a new United Nations report says.

“Haiti is at a critical juncture,” UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says in the report to the Security Council on the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

The security environment in Haiti has improved in recent months, with MINUSTAH helping the Haitian National Police to develop a reform plan aimed at enhancing professionalism and technical skills.

But the report warns that the potential for a resurgence of violence remains and continued preparedness will be crucial, particularly during the electoral period.

On the question of security for voting, the Secretary-General calls for outside assistance. “Given the possible increase in tensions during the next phase of the electoral process, a useful message of reassurance and deterrence could be provided if one or more Member States indicated their readiness to back up the capabilities of MINUSTAH through the deployment, if required, of an offshore presence during this period.”

Meanwhile, to create a level playing field for the elections, it is vital that the Transitional Government take measures to make them inclusive and participatory. “It is essential to avoid any perception that the judicial process is being used in a way that could adversely affect political participation,” the report says.

In this regard, the prolonged detention of former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune is widely perceived as symptomatic of political interference in the judicial system, it says.

“In addition, the recent release of Louis Jodel Chamblain, second-in-command of the paramilitary group known as the Front révolutionnaire pour l’avancement et le progrès d’Haiti, convicted in absentia and sentenced for his involvement in various crimes in 1993 and 1994, tarnished the credibility of the justice system,” the report says.

It is difficult to ensure that the political process is not tainted by two events: admitting candidates seen by the public as criminals, or closely linked to gangs, and not addressing the suspicion that electoral campaigns are being financed, at least in part, by funds of dubious origin. The report says that providing public financing to political parties would help reduce the latter risk.

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