Madam Chair, Madam Michele Rey, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Haiti, Distinguished Permanent Representatives and Observers, Honorable Percival J. Patterson, CARICOM’s Special Representative for Haiti, Secretary General Jose Miquel Insulza, Ambassador Edmond Mulet, Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Following recent discussions with the President of the Republic of Haiti and other Haitian authorities, the OAS dispatched from 8 to 10 April 2010 I led a mission of political and technical experts to discuss OAS programs in the areas of electoral support, civil registry and cadastre.
We held very positive discussions with the political authorities and representatives from different government institutions on the program and I am pleased to inform you that the OAS approach and program was welcomed by President Rene Preval and Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive.
While we can report in detail on the efforts in regard of the civil registry and the cadastre, I will focus on preparations for the elections.
We welcome the clear statement of the President of Haiti that it is important to avoid the establishment of a transitional government without a parliament before he demits office and therefore the need for Presidential, legislative and municipal elections to be held in accordance with the constitution.
Madam Chair, Distinguished Permanent Representatives,
During the recent mission we met with different stakeholders. The need for information and dialogue was the most common theme emanating from the discussions held with civil society, private sector and political parties and government authorities.
Haitian society seems polarized on the election issue. While the President is clear about his will to respect the Constitution, the political forces are not organized and alternative propositions on the way forward are not easily discerned or discussed constructively. Therefore a political understanding must be reached on this matter in order to have inclusive elections with the participation of all and thus generate stability before and after elections.
The electoral process could be significantly impacted by the pace of the reconstruction efforts. If elections are not held by February 7, 2011, Haiti will enter into a transitional government scenario, with the most senior judge on the Supreme Court (Court de Cassation) becoming acting President, with an interim or provisional prime minister and government. The absence of a functional Parliament that ensures accountability enhances the legitimacy deficit. In turn, this lack of electoral legitimacy could cause further instability in the country and result in an uncertain electoral calendar.
As only seven months are left, it is important that the necessary political decisions and actions are taken as soon as possible, to start the process for the holding of elections.
The OAS stands ready to support the electoral process, and to undertake the following actions:
• The OAS will continue monitor the debate surrounding elections.
• Priority will be given to producing a voters’ list that accurately reflects the population shift after January 12, 2010.
• The OAS will redouble its support activities to reinforce the ONI. The OAS should concentrate on supporting the ONI in printing and distributing ID cards to those citizens who lost them in the earthquake, making note of change of address, and removing from the list the names of deceased persons.
• Based on past experience, the OAS efforts should be part of a wider strategy to provide continuous support to the electoral process in Haiti. The OAS Electoral Program should include previous activities with the CEP, including continued training of personnel on the use of software and technical support to the tabulation center. Additional assistance could be offered in compiling the electoral calendar.
These activities, Madam Chair, cannot begin in earnest, however, until the legal parameters of the elections are settled, including which levels of office will be contested and what the requirements to vote will be.
In conclusion Madam Chair,
• The humanitarian situation is still acute and every effort should be made to mitigate the impact of the hurricane season.
• As the terms of the current legislature will end on May 9, there seems to be a need to foster dialogue with the political actors and the civil society in Haiti to facilitate a common understanding on the way forward.
• In the same vein it will be necessary to develop a communication strategy to inform the stakeholders and the public at large on developments and progress.
• We believe that technical preparation for the elections should start as soon as possible. The CEP has already by letter informed about the needs and the assistance required from the OAS.
• Lastly, given the several actors in support of election, there is a need for a consultation and cooperation structure for the electoral process, and in this regard we will work closely together with the UN and the CARICOM under the leadership of Haitian authorities.
Let me finally Madam Chair, assure the member states that the full text of the report of the Mission will be submitted as soon as possible to the Permanent Council.
I thank you.