Appeals for calm, high voter turnout in Haiti poll

Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Source - Caribbean360

Earlier this week, MINUSTAH voiced concern at the many acts of violence during the election campaign and urged all sides to abstain from threats, intimidation and harassment.

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Monday March 18, 2011 – Haitians have been urged to turn out in large numbers and keep the peace in Sunday’s presidential run-off election.

The Organisation of American States (OAS) and the United Nations (UN) made separate appeals as campaigning for the election enters the final stretch.

Former first lady Mirlande Manigat and popular musician Michel Martelly are facing off in the presidential run-off, nearly four months after the first round ended in controversy. Legislative elections are also being held this Sunday.

Haitian National Police and the UN’s Peacekeeping Mission, MINUSTAH, will be on the ground as Haitians go to the polls and OAS Assistant Secretary General Ambassador Albert Ramdin, who will be travelling to Haiti this weekend, has encouraged not only the electorate, but the presidential and legislative candidates to maintain “an atmosphere conducive to peace and democracy”.

“It would not be beneficial to anyone to act in haste, behave irresponsibly or incite violence. The democratic process must be allowed to take place,” he said, adding that peaceful elections will depend largely on the attitude and behaviour of candidates.

Ramdin said Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has been urged to ensure that better provisions are in place for the second round of elections, to prevent the irregularities that occurred in the first.

The initial results which showed Manigat leading, followed by ruling party candidate Jude Célestin, sparked violent protests in Haiti. A review by an expert OAS team recommended that, based on based on irregularities which the experts found in the tally, Célestin be eliminated and Martelly, who was in third place, be put forward for the runoff with Manigat.

“The CEP has informed us that they have implemented many of the recommendations made in the OAS expert report following the first round. We are hopeful this means there will be better safeguards in place. These elections are ultimately in the hands of the Haitian authorities,” Ramdin said.

He further encouraged citizens to go out and exercise their right to vote.

“Haiti needs political stability to move ahead with development efforts. Democracy and good governance are necessary to take any nation forward, but given Haiti’s recent and long standing problems, the elected leaders will have a major responsibility to their countrymen,” the OAS official said.

A similar appeal for Haitians to go to the polls en masse was made by MINUSTAH which said the country’s political stability and economic reconstruction depend, in part, on as large a turnout as possible.

MINUSTAH said in a press statement that by going to the polls in large numbers, Haitians would be able to “demonstrate their commitment to exercise their sovereign right to choose the leaders they trust.”

“There is no doubt that Haitians are today united to demand, through their vote, political stability and a democratic transition in Haiti and so that the reduction in poverty, reconstruction, revival of economic growth and social progress can advance as quickly as possible,” it said.

Earlier this week, MINUSTAH voiced concern at the many acts of violence during the election campaign and urged all sides to abstain from threats, intimidation and harassment.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has expressed the hope and expectation that the run-off elections will proceed smoothly in a credible, objective and democratic way.
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