UN Pressures Haiti to Hold Long Delayed Elections

Haiti is under pressure from the United Nations to hold its long delayed elections as specified in a U.N. Security Council hearing Wednesday. The country was expected to hold legislative elections more than a year ago, but has failed to create an electoral commission despite a new agreement signed in December. Nigel Fisher, the recently appointed head of the U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, pointed out that 130 elected officials had been replaced by presidential appointees during the 16-month political impasse.

“Holding credible elections in 2013 is fundamental to reinforce Haiti’s democratic institutions, strengthen the rule of law and respond to the urgent needs of Haiti’s citizens such as employment and social protection,” Fisher told the Security Council. “Politics as zero sum gain is not something that moves a country forward. Developing a consensus around core elements of an inclusive political process and democratic institutions is very important.”

A third of Haiti’s senators saw their terms end last year, adding additional urgency to the push for elections. The country is still struggling to recover from the 2010 earthquake that displaced more than a million people. President Michel Martelly is also working as the acting chair of CARICOM, the Caribbean regional bloc dedicated to increasing relations between its member states.

Haiti’s government has struggled to put foreign aid to good use, with large amounts of funding lost to administrative costs or simply frozen without formal plans of action. Members of the Security Council vowed to provide necessary support for the country to schedule elections as soon as possible, but recognized that the country’s political climate was complicated.

However, Wednesday’s hearing made it clear that foreign officials are losing patience with the Caribbean nation.

“If elections are not held in 2013, it will become ever more difficult for the international community to accept excuses and delays,” Ambassador Guillermo E. Rishchynski of Canada said. “These overdue elections must be held in 2013 and as soon as possible.”

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