f_0022610_18602 - Prerequisite to Progress: The Importance...

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Spring 2011 The Ambassadors REVIEW 9 Prerequisite to Progress: The Importance of the 2010/2011 Elections to Haiti’s Future Kenneth H. Merten United States Ambassador to Haiti rogress in the reconstruction of Haiti in the aftermath of the January 12, 2010, earthquake has been slow, but it is tangible. Impassable roads have been cleared, Haitians work to demolish buildings, often with hand tools, then pile the rubble and clear the site, and the famous Marché Hyppolite, the enormous 19 th century market destroyed in the quake, was recently rebuilt. These physical signs of progress are heartening as they are a reminder that the work of renewal and reconstruction continues in spite of Haiti’s political instability. To echo Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her recent visit, this progress is a testament to the incredible resilience and determination of the Haitian people. And yet for all the work being done, it is clear that sustainable progress needs a foundation of political stability, something that has been all too often missing. International and domestic investment will not take risks when it cannot predict Haiti’s new leadership team for the next five years. Donors and investors in infrastructure projects need to know that the Haitian government will approve of and continue to support planned initiatives and development proposals. And because President René Préval and his administration are in lame-duck status, they are unlikely to make long-term decisions regarding Haiti’s reconstruction. As the commemorations of the one-year anniversary of the earthquake ended, I was reminded that it might have been an opportunity to demonstrate Haiti’s new beginning—with the second round of elections originally scheduled for January 16. Following that calendar, Haiti would have inaugurated a new President by February 7, the Constitutionally- mandated date for a new administration. However, January 2011 turned out to be yet another month of instability, as political parties and candidates squabbled over the flawed November 28, 2010 first-round elections, and there were growing calls to throw in the towel and start the elections process over again. Certainly the November 28 elections had significant problems, including voters who couldn’t find their names on polling place lists as well as stuffed ballot boxes. However, there were also many places throughout the country where voting took place
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f_0022610_18602 - Prerequisite to Progress: The Importance...

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