|OAS Pledges Assistance to Haiti Ahead of Local, Legislative Polls
7/10/2014 4:06:06 PM
Special from the New York Carib News
CMC – The Organization of American States (OAS) has pledged its continued support for the initiatives being undertaken in Haiti to ensure local and legislative elections are held in the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country in October.
Haiti’s politicians have put aside their differences and in March signed an agreement ending a political impasse that had threatened to delay the polls.
The accord was signed by President Michel Martelly and Senator Steven Benoit, who was mandated to sign on behalf of the president of the Senate as well as by more than 50 parties of different political affiliations which were part of the talks held under the mediation of the first Haitian Cardinal, Chibly Langlois.
However, three political parties, including the Lavalas Family party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, had withdrawn from the talks because they wanted the departure of the entire government. Aristide’s party is also engaged in a movement to try to force President Martelly from power.
OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin, who is expected to meet with CARICOM leaders during their 35th annual summit here, told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) that the hemispheric body would continue to provide support to all the stakeholders to ensure the October polls are held.
“The relationship between Haiti and the Organization of American States is a long standing one particularly in the context of elections and efforts at strengthening of democracy…and so in this case also we have been constantly in discussions with the government, the executive authorities, with the CEP, the authorities that will have to be responsible for organising the elections.
“At this point in time we all that the elections are long overdue, these elections should be held as soon as possible but under the right circumstances,’ Ramdin said, adding that the OAS was pleased with the fact that for the first time “political parties met to discuss how to move forward
“That was a very encouraging sign, we supported that and this is something that we must not underestimate the importance of this national dialogue”.
Ramdin said as a result of the talks, “there are responsibilities on the side of the government and the side of the legislative authorities” to move forward the process of holding the elections.?“We have always stated that we want these elections to be held as soon as possible. But it is a Haitian election, it is under Haitian leadership and they have to agree on the conditions under which these elections will take place.”
But Ramdin stressed that the elections were important “because in the context of strengthening democracy we need a full fledge complete House of Deputies and a complete House of Senators to be able to move forward with the economic agenda, the political agenda
“So we hope that President Martelly and the legislative authorities will be able to agree on how to move forward, approve the electoral law and we stand ready to provide technical assistance to the CEP, the elections bureau to make sure that whatever assistance they need that they can count on the OAS and other international partners”.
Ramdin told CMC the OAS was already playing a role in terms of registration of voters and out of that project “there is the electoral list will be extracted”.
He said he OAS had discussed last week with Martelly the need to observe the elections “as we have done in the past.
“So this is the role of the organization, helping out behind the scenes, accompanying the process in the context of strengthening democracy but providing as well technical assistance and observing the election.”
The first round of the elections is scheduled for October 26 and Ramdin said the OAS is hoping that the CEP would be able to organize the polls within the timeframe.
“There are some political issues the president and the legislative authority need to work out and we are encouraging them to do that as soon as possible. If the CEP is able to hold these elections from an organization point of view…we will support that, there is no doubt that Haiti needs these elections, the Haitian people need these elections, the constitution prescribe these elections and it is good for Haitian democracy and democracy in general that the election is taking place,” Ramdin said.