Haiti Report for March 4, 2006
The Haiti Report is a compilation and summary of events as described in Haiti and international media prepared by Konbit Pou Ayiti/KONPAY. It does not reflect the opinions of any individual or organization. This service is intended to create a better understanding of the situation in Haiti by presenting the reader with reports that provide a variety of perspectives on the situation.
IN THIS REPORT:
- Delay in Run Off Elections Delays Inauguration of New President
- Poor Suffer and Little of Promised Aid Arrives in Haiti
- Haitian Security Guards from US Embassy Shot in Port-au-Prince
- Expectations Facing President-elect Preval
- Three Die and More than 50 are Injured During Carnival in Port-au-Prince
- Dominicans Protest US Military Presence
- IACHR Hearing on Economic and Social Rights Violations in Haiti
- Political Prisoners Hope President-elect Preval will Free Them
- Valdes Says UN Police Force Should Stay Two or Three Years
- Aristide Vows to Return to Haiti
- Price of Oil Rises and Affects Electricity Throughout Port-au-Prince
- New Deputy Special Rep for MINUSTAH
- US Peacekeeping Operation would Cost Twice as Much
- Election Official who Fled Haiti Appears in US
- Electoral Chief will be Replaced by Three-Person Commission
- President-elect Preval Seeking Aid from South America
Delay in Run Off Elections Delays Inauguration of New President:
The inauguration of Haiti's new president, scheduled for March 29, will be postponed because the legislative assembly that administers the oath will not exist by then, officials said. The chaotic Caribbean country's electoral council said on Thursday that a run-off election for senate and lower chamber seats would not take place as planned on March 19, delaying the installation of a Haiti's first elected government since former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in 2004. "We are already behind schedule. It is clear that the run-off election can no longer take place on March 19," said the president of the nine-member council, Max Mathurin. "So that situation will affect the date set for the inauguration of the new president, because there'll be no parliament." The electoral council did not set a new date for the second round of the legislative ballot, in which the two leading candidates for each of 30 senate seats and 99 lower house seats will compete. Council members blamed the delay partly on street protests by President-elect Preval's supporters in the week it took for authorities to announce the Feb. 7 election result. Preval's political platform called "Lespwa," or Creole for Hope, leads in the legislative election. Based on first-round results, Lespwa seems likely to gain 16 senate seats and 34 seats in the lower chamber. (Reuters, 3/2)
Haiti's electoral council says the second round of parliamentary elections will be delayed. Council head Rosemond Pradel said it was impossible to keep to the 19 March date because complaints from the first round were still being dealt with. This means that in the absence of a parliament, the inauguration of President-elect Rene Preval, set for 29 March, must also be delayed. (BBC News, 3/3)
Poor Suffer and Little of Promised Aid Arrives in Haiti:
The scars on the shoulder, neck and chin of little Laurencia Dieudonne are a constant reminder of the frightening night when bullets pierced the thin walls of her shanty-home in Haiti's Cite Soleil slum. The sounds of gunfire on that day 14 months ago -- probably another fight between slum gangs and U.N. peacekeepers -- chased now 5-year-old Laurencia and her mother, Guilene Jean, under the bed. But the walls of the rickety home, fashioned from rusted sheets of iron, offered little protection. Laurencia, a tiny child with an engaging smile and braided hair, was shot three times and became another forgotten victim of Haiti's immutable violence and poverty. "She doesn't talk about it. But when people ask about the scars, she just says, 'I got shot,'" said Guilene, who at 26 is pregnant with her third child. The poorest country in the Americas, Haiti is one of the world's forgotten crises -- overshadowed by the Asian tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of people, Hurricane Katrina which swamped one of America's best known cities and a host of other global disasters.
The average Haitian lives on less than $2 a day. The poor have stripped the land of trees for cooking charcoal. This has added catastrophic soil erosion to a long list of woes as the unstable Caribbean nation takes another stab at democracy after last month's presidential election, which followed decades of dictatorship, coups and turmoil. Just under 50 percent of Haitians cannot read, more than two-thirds are unemployed, over half are malnourished. Yet aside from the moments when its political upheavals make news, Haiti is a simmering crisis, not splashy enough to force the world to care, according to foreign aid groups working here. "It's not spectacular. Sometimes, countries are not interesting," said Loris De Filippi, head of the Medecins Sans Frontieres mission in Haiti. "But when you have 48 years of life expectancy, and infant mortality rates are catastrophic, this is an ongoing disaster."
Last year MSF revived the St. Catherine Laboure Hospital in Cite Soleil, a squalid, violent shantytown on the northern edge of Port-au-Prince. In an inconspicuous walled compound abandoned by Haiti's authorities a year earlier, the group restored health care to a slum that had none. Doctors say they are seeing people in their 50s who have never had medical care before. With 70 beds and an operating room, the volunteer doctors and nurses treat bruises, cuts, pregnancies, cancer, diabetes and in recent months, more than 200 gunshot victims, many caught in the cross-fire between slum gangs and U.N. troops. Doctors say the use of high-powered weapons in Cite Soleil's cramped maze of concrete and iron shacks produce astonishing wounds among the slum's innocent bystanders. "The speed of the bullets is very high and the damage is awful, terrible," said Dr. Carlo Belloni of Padua, Italy, who calls conditions in the slum "unbelievable." "I have never seen anything like this. Nothing is working here. Everything is destroyed." One night in January, gunshots ripped into the metal blinds of the hospital's pediatric ward, which is now protected by a wall of stacked steel drums filled with rocks and concrete. Bullet holes pock the doors of two small rooms where doctors used to take naps. Sleeping is no longer allowed there.
Two years ago, foreign nations pledged $1.3 billion to rebuild Haiti. The United Nations says about 45 to 50 percent of the money has been disbursed. "Disbursed means the contracts have been signed. That doesn't mean the money has actually arrived," said Carine Roenen, country director for Dublin-based Concern Worldwide, which has a yearly budget of about 4 million euros ($4.8 million) for Haiti. Shortly after the post-rebellion burst of goodwill toward Haiti, the tsunami struck Asia, Katrina hit New Orleans and Pakistan was crushed by an earthquake. Haiti was shoved to a back-burner again. "We saw donations drop by about 30 percent after the tsunami," said Susie Krabacher, an American whose Mercy and Sharing Foundation runs three orphanages and six feeding programs in Haiti. Aid organizations in Haiti face uphill battles against corruption and feeble government institutions, which slow and sometimes halt the flow of foreign money to badly needed projects supplying food, clean water and infrastructure. (Reuters, 3/2)
Haitian Security Guards from US Embassy Shot in Port-au-Prince:
Two Haitian men who worked as security guards for the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince were shot to death as they went home from work, the embassy said on Thursday. Gary Michel Joseph and Ernst Polo were killed late on Wednesday and their bodies were found in a residential area of the capital on Thursday, the embassy said in a statement. The killings came as Haitian police reported a drop in crime since the Feb. 7 presidential and legislative elections, particularly in dangerous slums such as Cite Soleil. Haiti had been plagued by political and gang violence and a spate of kidnappings for ransom in the months leading up to the vote. Police said slum gangs opposed to the interim government that has run Haiti since ex-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was deposed two years ago called a halt to the violence, allowing the elections to be held in relative safety. "Measures taken at the political level have contributed to easing the security situation," said Jean St.-Fleur, director of Haiti's administrative police. "In places such as Cite Soleil, Bel-Air and other places reputed as dangerous, the number of kidnappings is practically zero." The U.S. Embassy called the slain guards "devoted professionals" and said it was working with Haitian and U.N. police to find the killers. (Reuters, 3/2)
Expectations Facing President-elect Preval:
A week after the proclamation of his victory in the 7 February elections, RenÃ© PrÃ©val is taking stock of the expectations awaiting him in the context of a current situation marked by a problematic political transition and recurring social and economic problems. At his first press conference on 22 February, the new head of state admitted, "I am frightened to see the passions aroused by the presidential campaign, the election of a president, and the hopes that the population have in this president." PrÃ©val is trying to break with the tradition of an Executive making fabulous promises, knowing without doubt that he will be judged on his results in a context that bares no comparison with his first stint as President between 1996 and 2001. "The only promise that I have made to the people is that I will work with all my strength for the good of the country and will make sure that there is no corruption in the public administration or the State."
The president-elect proposed two essential missions for himself: the establishment of the institutions provided for in the Constitution to create stability in the country, and the creation of the conditions necessary for private investment in order to create jobs. "I believe there is a general consensus around these objectives," he said. However it is certain that popular expectations go a lot further than the objectives announced by PrÃ©val. A number of organisations from the popular sector have already made it clear they want to go beyond a simple respect for the popular will as reflected in the elections.
Taking encouragement from the mobilisation that followed the 7 February elections, the Mouvement DÃ©mocratique Populaire (MODEP), the TÃ¨t Kole peasant organisation, and the youth group Solidarite Ant JÃ¨n (SAJ), suggest that the "popular masses are searching for a real alternative." "Let's not forget our demands," state these organisations, insisting that "the same errors committed in 1990 cannot be repeated" (a reference to former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide's popular mandate.) The demands put by MODEP, TÃ¨t Kole and SAJ include opposition to the "foreign occupation", which holds the country under the yoke of the great powers. By "foreign occupation", these organisations mean the presence of the UN mission (Minustah) composed of more than 8,000 troops and police from 40 countries.
The popular sector also intends to put pressure on the new administration to detach itself from the Interim Cooperation Framework (Cadre de CoopÃ©ration
IntÃ©rimaire, CCI), which the interim government agreed with funders in 2004. The organisations from the popular sector are still critical of the fact that the people's aspirations were not taken into account by this agreement, which applies until December 2006 and which is based on neo-liberal objectives. For example, these organisations want the government to act directly to lower the prices of essential commodities. They also want a "genuine agrarian reform" in which the land is controlled by "those who work it." The agrarian reform carried out by PrÃ©val during his first presidency is often described as a "parody of an agrarian reform". Land was given over to peasants in the Artibonite, who called in vain for a proper structure to the process.
Major reforms of the health service and of the police and judiciary are expected. "All these questions must be addressed by the government acting in an autonomous manner", suggest MODEP, TÃ¨t Kole and SAJ. But based on the experience of his first presidency, PrÃ©val wants to convey the message that being President doesn't mean he can open all the doors, and that actions to be undertaken must be realistic. The President has "limited power" and his room for manoeuvre is "reduced" without collaboration with a strong Parliament, stated PrÃ©val. "If there is not a strong Parliament where cohesion reigns, the President cannot respond to the passions and the hopes that the people have in him", predicted PrÃ©val. Will the new head of state be able to decide on the minimum objectives in agreement with the Haitian nation, including the popular movement, and taking into account the desires of the majority population? (Translated from French by Charles Arthur, Alterpresse, 2/23)
President Bush phoned Haitian President-elect RenÃ© PrÃ©val Thursday to congratulate him and discuss economic aid and drug trafficking issues, the White House said Thursday. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Bush told PrÃ©val the United States had a ``a continuing interest in the democratic and economic success of Haiti.'' ''The two also briefly dis cussed cooperating in Haiti's economic development and the fight against the illegal drug trade,'' Perino added. Haiti is one of the major transit points for Colombian drugs heading to U.S. streets. The call was a show of support for PrÃ©val, who was once close to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Aristide has accused the administration of forcing him out of office during a 2004 armed revolt -- a charge Washington denies. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a House panel last week that the Feb. 7 election was a ``chance for a country that has had too few chances, and I think you will see that we will be looking at what resource needs we have for Haiti, as this new government gets up and running.'' The United States is Haiti's top foreign donor, having allotted nearly $400 million since Aristide was overthrown.
Bush's 2007 budget request contains mixed news for Haiti. It proposes a 22 percent cut in two U.S. Agency for International Development programs, to $39 million, leading some members of Congress to urge that aid be reinstated. The administration also wants to trim anti-drug trafficking aid from $15 million to $10 million. But it also proposes a 34 percent increase in assistance for HIV/AIDS initiatives, to $63 million. The administration has also declined to support congressional initiatives to provide special concessions to Haiti's textile industry. (Miami Herald, 2/24)
Haiti's success depends on whether its people can unite behind a new government, a top U.S. diplomat said Monday, calling ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's possible return "one of the least important questions" facing the country. Thomas Shannon, assistant U.S. secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, urged Haitians to support president-elect Rene Preval's government and to help the impoverished nation "meet the tremendous development challenges that it faces." "The success or failure of Haiti will depend on whether or not the Haitian government and the Haitian people work together," Shannon told reporters during a one-day visit to meet with Preval and Haitian officials. Shannon's visit came more than a week after Preval was declared the winner of Feb. 7 elections, the first since a revolt two years ago toppled Aristide, a former ally of Preval who still enjoys wide support among Haiti's poor. Aristide has been living in exile in South Africa, and Preval has said Aristide's return is permitted under the constitution. But Shannon downplayed that possibility when asked how the United States would react. "From our point of view, it's one of the least important questions that Haiti faces at this time," Shannon said. "We are focused on Haiti's future, not on its past, and we believe the Haitian people are also." Shannon said he didn't believe Haitians would take to the streets calling for Aristide's return. "Mr. Aristide has been gone for over two years, and those protests haven't appeared," he said. (AP, 2/27)
Three Die and More than 50 are Injured During Carnival in Port-au-Prince:
At least three people died and more than 50 have been injured during carnival festivities in Haiti, which has been plagued by political and gang violence, doctors and witnesses said on Tuesday. Doctors at the general hospital in the capital said a man and two women died on Monday along the parade route in Port-au-Prince. A 19-year-old man was killed when a float carrying a musical group ran him over. A woman died when she fell from a float and was crushed, and another woman died after being hit with a piece of a broken bottle, according to witnesses. At least 50 people have been injured since the annual festival began on Sunday. Hundreds of people have died in political and gang violence in Haiti in the last two years. In the months leading up to the Feb. 7 election, gunfire in the slums and kidnappings for ransom were a daily occurrence in the capital. But the country avoided a feared explosion of violence in connection with the vote, its first since former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide was deposed by an armed revolt in February 2004. Haiti's interim government disbursed nearly $2 million to finance the popular annual pre-Lenten carnival. (Reuters, 2/28)
Dominicans Protest US Military Presence:
An extensive representation of the Dominican people in the southern city of Barahona repudiated at a 10-hour rally the presence of US troops in that province. In statements to Prensa Latina, Ramon Almanzar, chief of Partido Nueva Alternativa and leader of the alliance Unidad del Pueblo, termed successful the long patriotic demonstration held Monday here. Dozens of political organizations, including hundreds of young people from Barahora, attended that protest, held in occasion of the 162nd anniversary of the National Independence, said Almanzar. According to him, there is a notable absence of news in national media on protest rallies against the present of GIs in this nation. Armed Forces secretary Admiral Sigfrido Pared defended Monday joint labors by US-Dominican soldiers in Barahona. (Prensa Latina, 2/28)
IACHR Hearing on Economic and Social Rights Violations in Haiti:
The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR) will hold a general interest hearing on March 3, 2006 to examine economic and social rights violations in Haiti. The hearing will include testimony from members of the Haiti-based Zanmi Lasante (Partners in Health www.pih.org), The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center for Human Rights (www.rfkmemorial.org) and New York University School of Law International Human Rights Clinic. The groups will present testimony demonstrating gross human rights violations against the Haitian people (focusing on the rights to health, water and food) since the arrival of the United Nations Stabilization Mission to Haiti (MINUSTAH). They will highlight the international human rights obligations of Organization of American States (OAS) Member States. MINUSTAH is primarily staffed by OAS member states with Brazil leading the mission.
âWe, as Haitians, know that we have rights to health, to food, to water, to life. But these rights are being violated every day. We are asking the OAS to finally recognize our rights and to let its Members know exactly what their responsibilities are to the Haitian people,â asserted Loune Viaud, Director of Strategic Planning and Operations of Zanmi Lasante and recipient of the 2002 RFK Memorial Human Rights Award. Haiti is the most impoverished country in the Western Hemisphere. It has the highest HIV prevalence rate outside of Sub-Saharan Africa. Haiti shares, together with Afghanistan and Somalia, the worst daily caloric deficit per inhabitant in the world (460 kcal / day). âThe international community has acted recklessly in Haiti for years without any accountability, â says Dr. Paul Farmer, Medical Director at Zanmi Lasante. âMINUSTAH, which has a greater annual budget than the entire nation of Haiti, must share responsibility for the human rights violations that have been occurring under its watch. Now, as a popularly elected government prepares to take office in Haiti, the international community must acknowledge its responsibility and redirect its resources to helping the Haitian people and their elected leaders assert and attain their rights.â
Testimonies will lay out the human rights obligations of OAS Members and urge the OAS to actively engage in ending these violations. They will particularly focus on the UN intervention, which began its mandate in June 2004. The groups will also ask the Commission to visit Haiti to examine the human rights violations currently occurring. âMember States and UN bureaucrats think those participating in UN interventions are above the law when it comes to human rightsâ, says Todd Howland, former UN human rights official currently serving as Director of the RFK Memorial Center for Human Rights. âGood intentions are not enough. UN Member States who intervene in a country like Haiti must be held accountable if their actions do not promote human rights.â The hearing will take place at the location below on March 3rd 2006 at 3pm and is open to the press. (RFK Memorial, 2/28)
Political Prisoners Hope President-elect Preval will Free Them:
Several jailed allies of ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide hope the victory of his one-time supporter, Rene Preval, in the presidential election will mean freedom for them. Former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, former Interior Minister Jocelerme Privert and a pro-Aristide political activist and singer, Annette Auguste, are considered by some human rights groups to be political prisoners. Speaking or writing from jail, they said they expected the interim authorities, which have ruled Haiti since Aristide fled an armed revolt in 2004, to release them before the new government takes office at the end of March in the troubled Caribbean country.
"We hope that the interim government, which has put us in jail for political reasons, will have the decency to release us before the inauguration of President Preval," Privert told Reuters on Friday. "If not, we will address the same demand to the new administration of President Preval because as political prisoners, it is the government which has to free us," said Privert, wearing a white T-shirt and blue shorts as he sat at a small prison table with a laptop by his side. Privert and Neptune have been jailed for nearly two years after being accused of being involved in a massacre of around 50 people in Feb. 11, 2004, near the northern town of St-Marc. Few bodies were ever found, however, and both men have denied the accusations. The judge who investigated the allegations indicted Privert because he failed to condemn the massacre. That was sufficient evidence, the judge said, that Privert supported the killings. Neptune, who served as prime minister under Aristide, has long said his arrest was politically motivated, a charge the interim government denies.
"It's not the justice system that has thrown Annette Auguste, all the other political prisoners and myself in jail," Neptune wrote in a Feb. 21 letter to President-elect Preval. "It's the machinery of injustice, set up by the government resulting from the coup, which has committed this criminal act. They should be released way before the government, elected by the majority of the people, takes office," Neptune said. Neptune, and Father Gerard Jean-Juste, another leading figure in Aristide's Lavalas Family Party, were both considered likely favorites to win the presidency if they had not been jailed. Preval entered the race at the last minute. Preval this week said the constitution allowed the president to pardon people prosecuted for political reasons.
But Auguste, known as So Ann and jailed since May 2004 on vague charges of involvement in a fracas at a university in the capital, said that was not what she wanted. "Someone who is pardoned is someone who has committed a crime or other wrongdoing," she told Reuters from the women's prison in the Port-au-Prince suburb of Petionville, wearing a green dress and sitting on a small chair outside her cell. "I am a political prisoner. I did not do anything wrong." (Reuters, 2/24)
Valdes Says UN Police Force Should Stay Two or Three Years:
Juan Gabriel Valdes, head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti said on Friday that UN police force should remain in the Caribbean country for another two or three years. "The fundamental aim of the UN in Haiti is to consolidate the development and professionalization of an autonomous police force,which will allow the country to have its own state security forces, and no longer need outside help," Valdes told La Segunda newspaper. Valdes, a former Chilean Foriegn Minister, met with Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and the current Foreign Minister Ignacio Walker on Thursday to discuss how Chile can contribute to Haiti's future. Chile's contingent is authorized to stay until July 30, and so president-elect Michelle Bachelet and the next session of legislators, who take office on March 11, will have to decide whether the Chileans will stay any further. "The fundamental thing is to maintain international support, which will need troops at first," said Valdes. "Later technical and financial support will be needed for around 20 years," he added. Haiti's president-elect, Rene Preval, will also have to give his permission for the UN forces to stay, once he is in power, Valdes said. (Xinhuanet, 2/24)
Aristide Vows to Return to Haiti:
Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide said on Wednesday he intended to help shape the future of the Caribbean nation as a private citizen when he returned from exile. "I am confident that I can serve my country without being involved as the president of the country now," Aristide told reporters in Pretoria, where he has lived since fleeing Haiti in 2004 following a violent revolt against his rule. Aristide, a populist who won two presidential elections only to be driven from power both times, declined to rule out a return to politics but stressed he would focus on education when he returned to the impoverished nation. But he said he would do so only after consultations with South African President Thabo Mbeki and Rene Preval, a former ally who was declared the winner of Haiti's presidential election last week.
Preval's victory sparked speculation that Aristide's return would be a speedy and celebratory one. Aristide on Wednesday said the two men had spoken but declined to give details. "It is a private matter," Aristide said. On Tuesday, he told South Africa's SABC television he believed he would return "as soon as possible". The former Roman Catholic priest described the election results as a victory for the Haitian people. "I care about him. I care for our president," Aristide said, referring to Preval. While Preval has distanced himself somewhat from Aristide, he has said there was nothing to stop him from returning from South Africa. Mbeki also has voiced a similar opinion. (Reuters, 2/22)
Haitian President-elect Rene Preval said Wednesday the constitution permits the return of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Preval said the former president has a legal right to return to the volatile Caribbean nation. "My position is simple on President Aristide and any other citizen who wants to come to Haiti," Preval said in his first news conference since being declared winner of the Feb. 7 election. "Article 41 of the Haitian Constitution says that no Haitian needs a visa to enter or leave the country." (AP, 2/22)
THE ousted Haitian leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide vowed yesterday that he would return to Haiti, but maintained that his days as a politician in his troubled homeland were over for good. I will be back. Yes, I will be back, he told The Times in his first interview since RenÃ© PrÃ©val, his former protÃ©gÃ©, was declared President last week. âI will continue to teach as I did before my first election as President,â declared the controversial priest turned politician who has been living in exile in South Africa for almost two years. M Aristide, 52, who fled Haiti in February 2004 amid a popular revolt, avoided giving any hint of a possible time for his return. He said: âThe date will emerge. It is a process of negotiation. One way to show respect is to listen, so I am listening.â
He said that Haitiâs oppressed poor, who have long been his powerbase, had voted for M PrÃ©val to ensure his return. âIt was a vote for me, of course. The people said it clearly, people voted the way they did because they want me back.â Analysts believe that a return by M Aristide would be deeply destabilising and polarising, and would destroy M PrÃ©valâs hopes of reaching out to Haitiâs business elite â who orchestrated the ousting of the former President â the masses and the international community. âThe Haitian people saw the vote as a non-violent way to have me back. The result must now be respected,â he said.
His said that his expulsion from the country, which he maintains was the result of a French and American plot, had simply increased unrest in Haiti. He added that only his return could provide stability. âIt is a matter of dignity. A citizen has the right to go back to his own country, especially when he has been the victim of a coup dâÃ©tat.â However, he emphasised several times that he would not seek a political role. âI always knew that when I was elected my mandate would come to an end. My mandate ended and that is that,â he said. He added that his return had the backing of the South African Government, and said that he had been in touch with the new President, who served as Prime Minister under M Aristide, but declined to give any details of the discussions.
M Aristide said that it was his dream to serve the people in a capacity other than that of President, and that his time in South Africa had allowed him to reflect on the role played by Nelson Mandela after he left office. âServing people is a dream, even when not in office,â he said. He added that his only goal now was to teach Haitians about their roots and history. âIf you are not at peace with yourself, how can you be at peace with others?â he added. (The Times, Pretoria, 2/22)
Price of Oil Rises and Affects Electricity Throughout Port-au-Prince:
Prices of oil products went up this week on the national market, even though no communiquÃ© seems to have been published on this regards. Gasoline 91 which was 145, 20 gourdes went up to 155,80 gourdes, an increase of 13 gourdes. (1US$= 43,75 gourdes) Public transportation drivers for different circuits in Port-au-Princeâs metropolitan area denounced this situation they call unacceptable. According to them, governmental authorities are trying to create problems between drivers and passengers by increasing fuel prices without any warning and without fixing new prices for public transportation. Interim authorities just gave a new proof of their bad intentions, drivers declared, inviting them to give peace a chance. Other drivers accuse them of wanting to scoff at the population and provoke a social explosion before they leave. Other also indicated that they want to extort money from the underprivileged masses one last time.
The union of public transportation drivers of Port-au-Princeâs metropolitan area criticized the new increase of fuel prices. SCTPM President RÃ©jouis Elius told of his intention to ask an explanation from the interim regime, since prices have not increased on the international market, he said. "The increases on the national market are the fruit of dealing between the government and companies that sell fuel, RÃ©tÃ¨s RÃ©jouis accused. He also calls the new government to look into the functioning of public transportation in Haiti. Also, most neighborhoods of the capital have been without electricity for one week. Residents of Carrefour, Carrefour-Feuilles, Bois Verna, Delmas, PÃ©tion-Ville, FrÃ¨res and Nazon and several other areas criticize leaders of Electricity of Haiti (EDH) who continue to take clientsâ money without giving them the service. The black-out is caused by the fact that the funds needed to buy fuel to run the machines havenât been paid. The EDH network now has only 13 megawatts on a total of 125.
It is a question of fuel, a technician of the company declared, affirming that the power station of Varreux III has motors that can run for 20 megawatts, Varreux I, 6 megawatts, Carrefour I, 14 megawatts and Carrefour II, 30 megawatts. Sources close to the government criticize the management done by EDH leaders as they havenât contributed once in two years to buy the fuel, they said. Company leaders answer that authorities very well know that the company is in deficit. A few days away from the Carnival activities, several citizens declared they were worried they might not be able to watch this event on their television. (AHP, 2/23)
New Deputy Special Rep for MINUSTAH:
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed a former United States diplomat as principal deputy special representative for the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (Minustah). Annan said [Larry] Rossin, who served, since October 2004, as principal deputy special representative for the secretary-general for the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo, will assume the new post on 3 March. In Kosovo, Rossin was responsible for overall programme management of a large and complex post-conflict mission. That mission exercises a full range of governance responsibilities, while building and empowering Kosovo institutions and facilitating the process of determining Kosovo's future political status.
Rossin retired from the US Senior Foreign Service in September 2004. His last position was special assistant to the president and senior director for strategic planning and Southwest Asia on the National Security Council staff. He served as director for Inter-American Affairs on the National Security Council staff, where his key responsibility was to design and coordinate United States policy on Haiti, participating in President Jimmy Carter's successful negotiation in 1994 to end the military regime in the French-speaking Caribbean country. He also held other positions in Barbados, South Africa and Mali.
Amid post-election violence in Haiti, Annan had called for, and the UN Security Council had endorsed, an extension of, at least six months, the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti. He welcomed the results of the Haitian presidential election, offering warm congratulations to President-elect Rene Preval. Annan has stressed the importance of national reconciliation and the need for all Haitians to work together to promote political dialogue. (BBC Monitoring, Caribbean Media Corporation, 2/21)
US Peacekeeping Operation would Cost Twice as Much:
A US peacekeeping operation in Haiti would cost twice as much as the current United Nations mission there, the US's Government Accountability Office has found, in a study that is likely to bolster the UN's case before critical congressional paymasters. "The UN budgeted $428m for the first 14 months of this mission. A US operation in Haiti of the same size and duration would cost an estimated $876m, far exceeding the US contribution for Minustah [the UN mission] of $116m," the GAO said in a report this week. Its findings underline the relative cost-effectiveness of multinational peace operations as opposed to unilateral intervention, even at a time when the UN is under fire for alleged fraud and mismanagement in its procurement procedures. The US pays for 27 per cent of UN peacekeeping missions.
On Wednesday John Bolton, US ambassador, convened a Security Council meeting to discuss audit findings of possible wastage in UN peacekeeping procurement, and the organisation faces a mid-year budget freeze if it does not undertake sufficient reforms. Mark Malloch Brown, UN chief of staff, cited the GAO study, requested by congressmen Dana Rohrabacher and William Delahunt, as part of the UN's defence. While condemning any instances of fraud, he also insisted the potential losses had been exaggerated.
More generally, he said after the meeting that "we do peacekeeping operations on the cheap", although he also suggested that insufficient training and the low take-up for civilian posts in field stations meant that "maybe we've been a little too cut-price". The UN will present a package of management reforms next week to address shortfalls identified in the wake of the oil-for-food scandal and the debate over procurement. But it also warns that meaningful change will come with a hefty price tag. The GAO report places those figures in context, although its authors also note several qualitative distinctions between US and UN-led missions. "While a US peacekeeping operation in Haiti would be more expensive...it would be subject to higher operational standards and supported by an extensive military infrastructure," the report said. "Strong, well-trained and quickly deployed US forces have proved militarily effective in short-term operations in Haiti in the past." On the other hand, "the UN's strengths include multinational participation, extensive peacekeeping experience and an existing structure for co-ordinating nation-building activities. Complex political considerations are likely to influence decisions about the role of the US and the UN in peacekeeping." (Financial Times, 2/22)
Election Official who Fled Haiti Appears in US:
A Haitian electoral official who fled abroad amid death threats complained Wednesday that President-elect RenÃ© PrÃ©val manipulated tensions from the Feb. 7 ballot to avert a run-off. Jacques Bernard, director general of the Provisional Electoral Council, made his first public appearance since he fled the country last week at a seminar on Haiti hosted by the U.S. Institute for Peace, a congressionally funded group that aims to resolve international conflicts.
Bernard defended the Feb. 7 presidential and parliamentary balloting as ''the best . . . for many, many years,'' although it was clouded by a painstakingly slow count, a stunningly high number of blank ballots, the finding of ballots in a garbage dump and outbursts of street protests by PrÃ©val backers when they suspected his victory was being stolen.
Bernard complained that two council members incited the crowds to violence as the suspicions of manipulations spread. ''These two members of the board, they were criticizing the results even prior to the elections, because they did not want the elections,'' he said, later identifying them as Pierre-Richard Duchemin and Patrick Fequiere. Both have previously accused Bernard of mishandling election preparations. PrÃ©val was holding just short of the 50 percent-plus one he needed to avoid a run-off against the second-place finisher when the council, fearing an explosion of violence, changed the way it counted the blank votes and gave him an outright victory. Bernard told the gathering that PrÃ©val ''clearly'' won the vote, but fell short of the 50 percent mark. ``What happened . . . is a clear manipulation on the part of two [board members] and PrÃ©val as a politician took advantage of the situation.'' Bernard said his farm house was looted and that he decided to leave after he was told that some people were looking to kill him. He hasn't decided if he will return to Haiti. (Miami Herald, 2/23)
Electoral Chief will be Replaced by Three-Person Commission:
The Haitian electoral chief who fled the country after receiving threats will be replaced by a three-person commission to monitor ballot counting for legislative races in the Feb. 7 elections, an official said Tuesday. The committee of three senior election officials will oversee the remaining tabulation of ballots and the planned runoff for Haiti's 129 legislative seats, said Stephane Lacroix, spokesman for the nine-member electoral council. Jacques Bernard, appointed three months ago to lead the embattled council out of organizational disarray, fled Haiti for the United States on Sunday, three days after presidential front-runner Rene Preval was declared the winner with four times as many votes as his nearest rival. Delays in the vote count and fraud charges sparked angry street protests by Preval supporters who accused Bernard of trying to manipulate the results -- a charge he denied. (AP, 2/21)
President-elect Preval Seeking Aid from South America:
Haitian President-elect Rene Preval said Friday he will visit three South American countries this month to raise aid money for his impoverished country. The planned trips to Brazil, Chile and Argentina come as Preval seeks funds to rebuild Haiti's battered infrastructure and create jobs after a revolt two years ago toppled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and pushed the nation deeper into despair. Preval did not give dates for the trips. "The international community is very disposed to help Haiti," Preval said at the close of a two-day trip to the neighboring Dominican Republic to discuss immigration and trade issues. International donors have disbursed some $780 million in aid to Haiti since December 2005, but officials say much more is needed to speed development in the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation.
The Dominican government did not offer an aid package but hosted a meeting Friday between Preval and Dominican business leaders in an effort to spur private investment in Haiti, Dominican Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Veri Candelario said. Haiti and the Dominican Republic share a 243-mile border on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola. Tension have surged between the countries over what to do about as many as 1 million Haitian workers who cross the border to work in the Dominican Republic, often illegally. (AP, 3/3)