With a three-day window opening today for candidates to formally lodge complaints in Haiti’s disputed elections, the United Nations and its partners have called on all concerned to use these legal means and to urge their supporters to avoid further violence.
A communiqué issued in the name of the “international community,” grouping the UN, the Organization of American States (OAS), the European Union (EU) and the ambassadors of Brazil, Canada, Germany, Spain and the United States, appealed “for the use of all legal ways to advance a credible electoral process so as to guarantee that the definitive results fully reflect the will of the Haitian electors.”
Giving candidates until Wednesday to lodge their complaints, the Provisional Electoral Council has proposed setting up a special verification committee, and the communiqué called on all candidates to participate in this process.
It warned that the violence was impeding efforts to fight a cholera epidemic that has already killed well over 2,100 people, with some 50,000 others hospitalized in country that is still struggling to recover from a devastating earthquake in January, which killed over 200,000 people and displaced some 1.3 million others, most of them still living in crowded and unsanitary tent camps.
Thousands of protesters have been rampaging through the streets of Port-au-Prince, the capital, accusing the ruling government coalition of rigging the results, after provisional tallies of the 28 November presidential and legislative elections announced last week put former first lady Mirlande Manigat and outgoing President Rene Préval’s party candidate Jude Celestin in first and second place, thus qualifying for January’s run-off.
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 international community deplores the acts of violence which, among others, has paralysed economic activity, prevented school children and students from continuing their studies and, more tragically, impeded the access of cholera victims to medical treatment,” it said.
“The international community urgently calls on all political and state actors to do everything possible to advance reconstruction and allow health personnel and Haitian and international humanitarian workers to continue, in full security, to provide the vital response to the cholera epidemic. Thousands of people need it.”
It exhorted all candidates to call on their supporters to avoid all recourse to violence, “whose sole victim is the entire Haitian people.”
The UN has maintained a stabilization mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH, currently with nearly 12,000 military and police personnel, since mid-2004 after then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile amid violent unrest.