Haiti needs credible elections: US

Haiti`s political situation remains shaky one year after the earthquake.

Last Updated: Jan 21, 2011, 12:42 PM IST

New York: The US ambassador to the United Nations said on Thursday that Haiti must accept the Organization of American States` call to replace the candidate backed by President Rene Preval in a disputed Presidential Election.

American Ambassador Susan Rice said that Haiti has to sponsor a credible election if it wants to retain the support of the United States and the international community.

The OAS, a regional political grouping in the Americas, has called for government construction official Jude Celestin — who is backed by Preval — to be dropped to third place in the preliminary tally because of widespread election fraud.

He would be replaced in second place by singer Michel Martelly, who would face a runoff election with former first lady Mirlande Manigat, the top vote-getter.

Haiti`s electoral commission has said it will consider the OAS recommendation as one among many appeals filed before the January 24 deadline, but will not be bound by it.

"Sustained support from the international community, including the United States, requires a credible process that represents the will of the Haitian people, as expressed by their votes," Rice told the UN Security Council.

Rice spoke during a council briefing on the situation in Haiti one year after a devastating earthquake killed more than 200,000 people.

UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy warned that Haiti could face more political instability unless the government accepts the OAS electoral recommendations.

"Should the (electoral council) decide otherwise, Haiti may well be faced with a constitutional crisis, with the possibility of considerable unrest and insecurity," Le Roy told council.

The UN has a 12,000-strong peacekeeping operation in the Caribbean country.

Street riots erupted in December when provisional electoral results showed that Celestin had edged out Martelly, a popular figure known as "Sweet Micky”, for second place and the chance to advance to the runoff. Martelly supporters barricaded streets and burned Celestin`s campaign headquarters to demand their man be named president.

A January 16 runoff was postponed and the OAS called in to review the allegations of fraud.

Haiti`s political situation remains shaky one year after the earthquake. A cholera epidemic has complicated reconstruction efforts, and this week`s surprise return of former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier has provided a new distraction.

Bureau Report