jeudi 2 décembre 2010

U.S. Senator says ``political uncertainty'' could cost Haiti billions of dollars

PORT-AU-PRINCE -- U.S. lawmarkers and Latin American experts are calling on Haiti's dueling presidential candidates to sit down and resolve the electoral crisis in an effort to seize billions of dollars in reconstruction dollars.
acould cost the dire nation billions of dollars in reconstruction dollars if left unresolved, a powerful U.S. senator said.
Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., will discuss Haiti later today at a hearing of the Senate foreign relations committee. In a prepared statement provided to The Miami Herald the senator, Lugar blames Haitian President René Préval's failure to enact needed reforms for the chaos and irregularities in Sunday's legislative and presidential elections.
``I and others urged President Préval to enact much needed reforms to ensure the credibility of these elections. He refused to do that. As a result, the elections have been fraught with numerous reports of irregularities and fraud,'' Lugar said in the hearing.
Earlier this summer Lugar and others called Préval to change the nine-member Provisional Electoral Council. But the president, noting that he had already changed the CEP before, refused to budge.
``Political uncertainty now threatens to exacerbate the human suffering in Haiti,'' he added.
Since the devastating January earthquake, at least 1. 5 million people remain under tents and tarps and a cholera epidemic has killed more than 1,700 people in the past month.
``The United States has an interest in helping to address the ongoing humanitarian problems in Haiti, and we will continue to do that through various means,'' Lugar said. ``But our willingness to direct funds through the Haitian government depends on the fair, transparent, and legal resolution of the current political crisis.''
Meanwhile, the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti is urging Haitians to be patient and wait on official election results.
``The `quick counts' or opinion polls are not an exact science. Individuals and media should not be guided by the unofficial results, speculation or assumed partial accounts that are currently circulating. The only poll that counts is the one that took place on November 28,'' it said in a statement.
``We call on everyone to be patient and await the announcement of official results of the Dec. 7,'' it added. ``The Provisional Electoral Council should have time and political stability to complete its work, the result will be subject to possible challenge by candidates, political parties and the Haitian people through the legal process of litigation.''
The political tension in the country was especially evident on Tuesday when the UN troops and protesters clashed in a second day of demonstrations in Saint Marc, a western port city north of Port-au-Prince.
Witnesses said UN peacekeepers -- clad in riot gear and carrying riot shields -- fired shots in the air and tear gas in the direction of opposition protesters who were supporting presidential candidate Mirlande Manigat and senatorial candidate Francois Anick Joseph. Protesters retaliated by burning tires and throwing rocks.
A UN spokesman said he had no information on rubber bullets or tear gas used but noted that about 600 protesters had assembled in front of the UN base in Saint Marc.
``They were burning tires and throwing rocks on our forces there,'' said Jean-Francois Vezina, a spokesman for UN police.
Tear gas could be seen down the street from the UN base in Saint Marc Tuesday evening.
``It's Madame Manigat we need for president,'' Suzette Louis, 35, a street merchant, said across the street.
Also on Tuesday, several hundred Manigat supporters marched through Gonaives, a gritty sea port city north of Saint Marc, for a second day. Sen. Youri Latortue led them.
``We only want to show President Préval that the people are not happy with the vote -- it wasn't respected,'' Latortue said after he wrapped up the demonstration Tuesday afternoon.
Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/12/01/1951451/some-claim-victory-even-though.html#ixzz16wWjf9ti

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