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AFP: Clinton urged to push for free and fair Haiti elections

October 8, 2010
In The News

US lawmakers are urging Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make it clear that Washington will withhold funds for elections in Haiti next month if they are not going to be free, fair and inclusive.

The US State Department said Friday it would respond later to the letter from Maxine Waters and 44 other members of Congress.

In the letter published Thursday, the lawmakers expressed concern about the run-up to the November 28 presidential and parliamentary elections in Haiti, the first since January's devastating earthquake.

"Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council has decided to exclude candidates from over a dozen political parties from participating in the elections, including Fanmi Lavalas, Haiti?s largest political party," the letter said.

"The exclusion will undermine both Haitians? right to vote and the resulting government?s ability to govern," according to the letter published on Waters's website.

The members of Congress said "allowing flawed elections now will come back to haunt the international community later" because the new government will have to make key decisions in the reconstruction of the quake-stricken nation.

The next government could make decisions that have a "lasting impact on Haitian society, such as land reform and allocation of reconstruction projects among urban and rural areas," the letter said.

"Conferring these decisions on a government perceived as illegitimate is a recipe for disaster," it warned.

"We call on you (Clinton) to make a clear statement that elections must include all eligible political parties and ready access to voting for all Haitians, including the displaced," the letter urged.

"The United States government should also state unequivocally that it will not provide funding for elections that do not meet these minimum, basic democratic requirements," it added.

Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, said: "Obviously we want free, fair, democratic, transparent elections to take place in Haiti as well.

"And we'll (be) looking into these... allegations in the letter and... comment later," Toner told reporters. "I'm sure we'll review it... and respond appropriately."