US rejects Haiti opposition call for new elections
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti- The US government rejected on Tuesday demands by opposition parties in Haiti to invalidate the results of recent legislative elections, and to set up a transitional government that would have to led the impoverished Caribbean country to general elections in a so far undetermined future.
During a brief visit to the Haitian capital on Tuesday, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, said the holding of elections was the only way to have a change of government, as to challenge those who wish to foil the ongoing electoral process to favour the departure of the current administration and the installation of an transitional government, which would not be the results of a popular vote.
"Let me be very clear! The only way to have a change of government is through the election process," Kerry told reporters during a joint news conference with Haitian President Michel Martelly at the presidential palace on Tuesday.
"And that is the way to have a legal and legitimate transition that attracts the support of the international community and there will automatically be a transition because President Martelly is not running again," Kerry said.
Haiti held legislative elections on August 9, but the ballot was considered by a number of political and other sectors as fraudulent. The runoff is set to take place on October 25, at the same time as presidential and local elections.
"The United States and other members of the international community will be working with the provisional electoral council to support what we hope will be a smoother and more fully peaceful process than what took place on August 9," stated Kerry, saying that the October 25 elections should be held as scheduled.
"We are working very closely in order to guarantee that any problems that existed do not exist in the next step," he explained.
Kerry said US President Barack Obama and himself joined together in encouraging all Haitians to go to the polls on October 25 and to be patient and to refrain from any kind of disruption.
The United States promised to work very closely with Haiti and with the international partners to put in place all of the elements of a credible, free, fair, transparent and accountable election and called on all actors to make sure that the election is without incident, violence and intimidation.
"The United States condemns any violence and we encourage full participation in the election process," he said. "And as President Martelly and I just discussed, violence and intimidation have no place in the election process," Kerry insisted.
Since the devastating earthquake that killed over 250,000 people in Haiti in 2010, Kerry said the United States has provided the country with more than 4.2 billion dollars in assistance, while acknowledging that Haiti's future will not be defined by the external help, as necessary as it can be.
"Haiti's future depends on the unity of its people and your new ability to develop strong, stable, democratic institutions," he explained.
The August 9 legislative elections were marred with violence and numerous irregularities that caused the vote to be canceled in several areas.
Kerry said, "Haiti needs governing institutions that are legitimate and representative and those cannot come into being without free and fair elections in which citizens take part without intimidation, without violence."
Kerry hailed Martelly's government's efforts to support the electoral process, particularly by increasing funds allocated to the electoral council to organize the vote.
He said that Haiti can be certain that American contributions, more than $30 million for the full electoral cycle, will continue as well.
The United States government said it wants the October elections and later rounds to go well because the US wants Haiti to take the next big step toward a flourishing economy and the kind of vibrant democratic system that Haitians need and deserve.
In order to attract business and investments and change the course of Haiti, Kerry strongly urged people to embrace the opportunity of the next 19 days to campaign, to speak out, to organize and then to go to the polls and vote peacefully, and with determination to unite for the force of Haiti.