Haiti: Security Council calls on all sides to end post-electoral violence
In a press statement following a briefing from Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Alain LeRoy, the 15-member body “underscored their concern about allegations of fraud and expressed their strong commitment to supporting free and fair elections and called on all political forces to work through the electoral process to ensure that the will of the people is reflected in the outcome of the election.”
According to media reports, thousands of protesters have been rampaging through the streets of Port-au-Prince, the capital. They set fire to the headquarters of the ruling government coalition, which they accused of rigging the results, after Tuesday’s announcement that former first lady Mirlande Manigat and outgoing President Rene Préval’s party candidate Jude Celestin qualified for the January presidential run-off by coming in first and second.
Popular musician Michel Martelly was less than one percentage point behind in third place, but thus excluded from the run-off, and his supporters set up burning barricades of timber, boulders and flaming tires. Haiti's electoral council has said it will recount the ballots.
“The members of the Security Council called upon the Haitian authorities to ensure a calm and peaceful environment and urged MINUSTAH [UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti] to continue to extend its critical support in this regard,” Ambassador Susan Rice of the United States, which holds the Council presidency for this month, said as she read out the statement, which also voiced “deep concern” at the violence.
The electoral crisis caps a year of disasters for the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, which has already been ravaged this year by a devastating earthquake in January and a still raging cholera epidemic that erupted in October.
The quake killed over 200,000 people and displaced some 1.3 million others, most of them still living in crowded and unsanitary tent camps. The epidemic has already killed some 2,120 people, with over 44,150 others hospitalized. Ever since the 28 November elections Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been appealing for calm, warning that worsening security would hamper efforts to address both disasters.
MINUSTAH, with nearly 12,000 military and police personnel currently on the ground, has been in the country since mid-2004 after then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile amid violent unrest.