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Political stability needed for effective international aid to Haiti, Annan says

Political stability needed for effective international aid to Haiti, Annan says

Secretary-General Kofi Annan has reiterated the United Nations' commitment to assisting the Government of Haiti in its quest for democracy and development, while stressing that political reconciliation is key to addressing the country's widespread poverty and receiving aid from the donor community, according to a just-issued report to the General Assembly.

In his final report on the UN's International Civilian Support Mission in Haiti (MICAH), which ended on 6 February, the Secretary-General says it is "regrettable" that the various opportunities to reach a political compromise before the November 2000 elections were not seized, and that impediments to the resumption of much-needed international assistance remained in place.

"Concern has been growing that actions of some organizations and political leaders associated with the Fanmi Lavalas party [of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide] have undermined the democratic process," Mr. Annan writes. "While hopes were revived by the resumption of political dialogue in the final days prior to President Aristide's inauguration on 7 February, doubts persisted that either side was ready or able to make the necessary concessions."

According to the report, there was widespread concern among the opposition that President Aristide's goal in entering the dialogue may have been to draw a few opposition and civil society figures into his Government, in order to regain access to international assistance.

Mr. Annan notes that development assistance and constructive engagement by the international community could reinforce the more moderate, modernizing currents within Fanmi Lavalas and increase the likelihood that respect for political freedoms and human rights will become institutionalized, while withholding aid could have the undesired effect of pushing political personalities into taking more extreme positions.

The report further states that in order for the UN to continue helping Haiti in projects related to the rule of law, it will be necessary to devise new forms of technical assistance. "To this end, UNDP [the UN Development Programme] has crafted a comprehensive post-MICAH transition programme and I call on the Friends of the Secretary-General for Haiti and other Member States to contribute to this next phase of peace-building in Haiti."

The countries that make up the Group of Friends of the Secretary-General are Argentina, Canada, Chile, France, the United States and Venezuela.