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UN envoy calls on Haitians to seize ‘window of opportunity’

UN envoy calls on Haitians to seize ‘window of opportunity’

SRSG Edmond Mulet briefs correspondents
Haiti has made solid progress in rebuilding its economy and restoring the rule of law but serious obstacles remain in the country, the head of the United Nations peacekeeping operation there said today.

“If you take a picture of Haiti today, you’ll see it’s quite a worrisome picture,” Edmond Mulet, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative and head of the Mission, known as MINUSTAH, told reporters at UN Headquarters, referring to problems the country currently faces such as political polarization, corruption, violence and paucity of institutions.

However, Mr. Mulet pointed to the extremely positive progress which has been made so far. “If you take this picture of Haiti today and you compare it with … the one of two years ago when the Mission arrived, there is no comparison.”

Violence remains a problem in the country, especially in the notorious inner-city neighbourhood of Cité Soleil in the capital Port-au-Prince. MINUSTAH troops maintain a 24-hour presence in the area, and last week, they launched an operation to gain control of a house controlled by gangs terrorizing the area.

Other problems include the prison system which is riddled with “human rights violations” where, as a preventive measure, prisoners can be held for years without formally being charged with crimes.

Although he acknowledged that building institutions could take several years, Mr. Mulet cited the success of the three elections last year – presidential, legislative and municipal – as proof of the dedication of the Haitian people to consolidating democracy.

He also commended the gains made by the national reconciliation process as well as President René Préval’s fulfilment of a campaign promise to promote political dialogue.

These achievements, Mr. Mulet asserted, reflect Haiti’s “commitment of trying to take advantage of this incredible window of opportunity to bring some kind of political stability to the country.”

Mr. Mulet today also addressed the Security Council, which met in closed consultations on MINUSTAH’s mandate, which is set to run out on 15 February. He also met with representatives of troop contributing countries; 80 per cent of blue helmets in Haiti are from nine Latin American countries.