Bill Clinton urges objectivity in Haiti

2010-12-15 11:01

Santo Domingo - Former US president Bill Clinton called on Wednesday for an "objective" recount in disputed Haiti elections, saying a transparently fair result was imperative for the quake-hit nation's recovery.

"They have agreed I think, the (electoral) commission, to have a second look at the votes with objective and informed observers," Clinton said after co-chairing a meeting on Haiti reconstruction.

"I think that course may offer the best opportunity for the people of Haiti to accept the result," he told journalists in Santo Domingo, in the neighbouring Dominican Republic, adding: "We need an objective view of this count."

Clinton agreed a greater international presence was needed to monitor subsequent tallies so the Haitian people could trust the results and the world would be able to carry on supporting the government in rebuilding the nation.

"It makes it a lot easier for me to do what I do," he said.

"It makes it easier for me to go get the donors to honour their commitments, and far more importantly for Haiti over the long run, it makes it easier for me to get new investors to come in and people to work and create a new economy."

Clinton, who was the United Nations envoy to Haiti even before a devastating earthquake 11 months ago that killed 250 000 people, has been chairing regular board meetings of the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC).

The board - half Haitian, half foreign - was set up following the earthquake to oversee the massive reconstruction effort to be funded by $10bn in long term pledges by the international community.

Days of deadly protest

The recovery has been made harder by an ongoing cholera epidemic and the political uncertainty since November 28 polls that President Rene Preval is accused of rigging in favour of a handpicked ruling party successor.

Days of deadly street protests erupted when official results last week showed popular singer Michel Martelly, aged 49, losing out on a place in the January 16 run-off to Preval protégé Jude Celestin by less than 7 000 votes.

There were widespread allegations of fraud on a chaotic election day in which thousands of quake survivors and slum dwellers either couldn't get the necessary papers to vote or weren't on the register.

The electoral commission plans a recount of tally sheets in the presence of the three main candidates, but Martelly and Mirlande Manigat - a 70-year-old former first lady who topped the poll - are refusing to be part of it.

Clinton alluded back to election setbacks in his own stellar political career as he suggested whoever loses the race to Haiti's ruined presidential palace should own up and accept it so the country can move on and progress.

"In the end I won a lot of elections but I lost two, and the two I lost I knew I had lost fair and square," the 64-year-old, two-term president said. "It hurt! I hated it! But I did, I got beat, and I had to live with it.

"It's important for the people of Haiti to feel good about where they are coming on the first anniversary of the earthquake, and it's important so that the world keeps pulling for Haiti and keeps helping."

Read more on:    rene preval  |  michel martelly  |  mirlande manigat  |  bill clinton  |  jude celestin  |  haiti

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