Haiti risking aid freeze: US

2010-12-14 14:53
Wakefield - The United States and Canada on Monday signalled mounting impatience with the leaders of Haiti warning them to make greater efforts to resolve their nation's problems or risk an aid freeze.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said there was "a growing frustration... that as we're approaching the one-year anniversary of the Haitian earthquake that there hasn't been the kind of co-ordinated, coherent response from the government of Haiti that is called for".

Haiti, hit by more upheaval and unrest following the disputed results of November presidential elections, topped the agenda for North American talks in Canada.

The United States and Canada have led efforts to pump aid and know-how into Haiti since the January 12 earthquake which devastated the capital Port-au-Prince, killed 250 000 people and left 1.3 million homeless.

"We understand that the government itself was badly damaged, individuals were traumatised, but there has to be a greater effort and there has to be a more focused approach toward problem solving," Clinton said.

She met with Canadian Foreign Ministers Lawrence Cannon and their Mexican counterpart Patricia Espinosa in Quebec to discuss Haiti, as well as Canada-US-Mexico border security, regional trade and the fight against drug cartels.

Travel visas


Clinton said Friday's call to suspend direct aid to Haiti from Senator Patrick Leahy, Senate Judiciary Committee chairperson, "should be heeded by the leaders of Haiti that this is a very strong signal that we expect more and we're looking for more".

Leahy also urged Washington to deny travel visas to top Haiti officials to force a fair outcome to the Caribbean nation's disputed presidential elections.

His appeal came after violent protests - triggered by charges of vote-rigging - left five dead in cities around the impoverished Caribbean country.

Clinton said Washington continues to support sending technical experts to Haiti "to try to resolve many questions raised by the election".

"People are trying to push forward in a difficult environment and we want to see progress on the ground," she said.

Canadian Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon stressed Haiti "remains a grave concern", adding the international community "cannot do everything".

Review of results

"Haiti's political actors must fulfil their responsibilities and demonstrate a firm commitment to democratic principles, including respect for the integrity of the electoral process," he said.

Cannon said it was "critical" that a recounting of the November 28 ballot be addressed in a "timely and transparent manner" and "that calm be restored in the streets".

Tuesday's results sparked angry declarations from rival candidates who have vowed to use legal means to secure a place in the race to succeed Haiti's President Rene Preval.

In the wake of two days of clashes, the electoral commission is reviewing the results that showed singer-turned-politician Michel Martelly had been defeated by less than 7 000 votes by Preval's handpicked protégé Jude Celestin, who won a place in next month's presidential run-off.

Martelly's supporters have alleged vote-rigging in a nation with a history of political upheaval, corruption and violence.

In a bid to counter widespread allegations of fraud, Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has announced plans to add up all the tally sheets in the presence of the three main candidates.

Hope for clarity

The election commission gathered key parties on Monday in a bid to unblock the impasse.

Monday's meeting offers hope of breaking the political stalemate and perhaps some clarity on whether or not the main candidates, especially Martelly, will support the planned tally sheet recount.

Clinton, Cannon and Espinosa also reaffirmed their commitment "to trilateral co-operation and co-ordination" in policing and disaster preparedness, as well as to bolster continental "security" and "competitiveness" in global trade.

Senior US officials had said North American governments feared drug cartels could relocate to Central American nations as they faced government crackdowns in Mexico and Colombia.

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