Bill Clinton calls for rebuilding in uncertain Haiti

Top OAS officials will be in Haiti to resolve the post-election stalemate.

Port-au-Prince: Former US president Bill Clinton called for reconstruction efforts in Haiti to continue despite post-election uncertainty that has flared into violence and fresh warnings of protests.

"So far the violence has not affected reconstruction," Clinton told reporters during an hours-long visit to Haiti in which he met with Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive and visited a cholera clinic.

"I don`t have a candidate. My candidate is the reconstruction process. My candidate is the future of Haiti," added Clinton, who was a UN envoy to Haiti before a devastating earthquake killed some 250,000 people in January.

Clinton and Bellerive chaired the fourth meeting of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), which on Tuesday approved USD 430 million in new aid projects for the country, which is now battling a cholera epidemic.

At the meeting held in the neighbouring Dominican Republic, Clinton had said there should be an "objective recount" in Haiti after initial election results set off riots that killed at least five people last week.

The election commission has ordered a review of the November 28 vote in which the ruling party`s handpicked protégé ousted a popular singer, Michel Martelly, from a presidential run-off to be held next month.

Clinton warned that any recount should be done carefully, as an unfair result could doom efforts to rebuild the country.

But he insisted that "it would be a mistake to stop the reconstruction. Haiti needs to get off the humanitarian train."

Top Organization of American States (OAS) officials, meanwhile, headed to Haiti to try to resolve the post-election stalemate.

Haitian President Rene Preval had asked the Washington-based OAS to send experts to help any recount after he was warned his country risked a US aid freeze amid mounting international frustration at the situation.

Clinton said the observers "may offer the best opportunity for the people of Haiti to accept the result... We need an objective view of this count."

The death toll from the cholera epidemic, meanwhile, soared past 2,400 after several days in which it had appeared to taper off.

Since mid-October more than 54,500 people have been treated in hospital out of a total of 109,196 cases, as the diarrhoeal disease has torn through the ragged tent camps left over from the earthquake.

Concerns about the origin of the epidemic have swirled, with many blaming Nepalese peacekeepers.

Alain LeRoy, head of the UN peacekeeping department, said the United Nations would name an international panel to investigate and identify the source of the infections.

Bureau Report