U.S. Senator: ‘political uncertainty’ could cost Haiti billions of dollars

PORT-AU-PRINCE — The “political uncertainty” looming over a quake-ravaged Haiti could 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.

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.

“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 statement.

“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.

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.


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2 thoughts on “U.S. Senator: ‘political uncertainty’ could cost Haiti billions of dollars

  1. Just one phone call from the self appointed Haitian Governor and Mr. Eminent domain of Port au Prince Bill Clinton, to his Haitian kleptocratic government partners, all this scandalous spectacle will stop. But this will never happen since all of Haiti,s protector nations and players are waiting for their commissions from the reconstruction Money. The U.S. taxpayers should ask Washington for a refund. This is one more reason to Change the Land Scape in November 2012.

  2. This is amazing to me… What result should we wait for. Celestin, Manigat or Mickey wins…. How can one even entertain the idea of a result. The election was a massive fraud. The votes that are going to be counted are not people’s vote. The real votes are on the street. Is the Nimustah, AOS and the Caricom are in bed with Preval. Why are they talking for us.. Was this election about the haitians or them… I wonder if this happens in the US will that election be acceptable…. How do we know the 56 centers that have the irrigalities are not from the sections that are the most votes for a specific candidate. How do we know that they are not the section like the north and the northwest where 50% of the votes are coming from…. This is so disgusting just to hear the word result in the mouth of so call official….. That is plain wrong to the Haitians….. After all Haiti went through and still going through… hurricaine, earthquake, cholera, rubble, tents and the world is telling us that they cannot even give those people a happy day to vote their own leader… If that is the best their can offer, I cannot imagine what do they mean by reconstruction….

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