Haiti

Haitian Government, political parties and civil society organizations in historic discussions towards a peaceful transition

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Port-au-Prince, 26 July 2005 - As the country gets set to elect a new government in the general elections scheduled for October, November and December this year, the first legislative, municipal and presidential elections since the resignation and departure from the country in February 2004 of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the Government of the Republic of Haiti and the United Nations declared open last Monday in Port-au-Prince a two-day information and discussion workshop for political parties and civil society organizations aimed at promoting a peaceful transition in this strife-torn Caribbean nation, which is preparing to organize general elections that are the crucial to the country's future transition to democracy.
The workshop - organized by the Haitian Government with the support of the United Nations through the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) - brought together on 25 and 26 July in the Haitian capital, all of the factions of the political parties planning to compete in the upcoming elections. It provided a forum for in-depth consideration by the participants of such important issues as the national budget, implementation of the Interim Cooperation Framework (ICF) - prepared by the Transitional Government with the support of the international community - the environment, poverty reduction efforts and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). In addition to members of the Government, the workshop also benefited from the participation of representatives of civil society organizations and development cooperation agencies.

"With the elections just a few months away and as part of the process of national dialogue, the Government with the support of the United Nations system wished to share all available information on the major national issues", declared Gérard Latortue, Prime Minister of the Transitional Government. "This is part of our efforts to develop the capacity of political actors and of civil society in order to equip them for effectively preparing their programmes and for the proper exercise of State power".

Local, legislative and presidential elections will lead to a renewal of the ruling class of the country, the poorest in the southern hemisphere, which is currently in the grip of a crisis of instability fuelled by social violence that is political in nature and by growing insecurity.

Unfortunately, this situation, which is characteristic of the recent history of Haiti, has been an obstacle to any improvement in the socio-economic indicators. According to official statistics, more than half of the population, or 56 per cent of the 8.5 million Haitians, live on less than a dollar a day. The incidence of poverty in Haiti is thus three times higher than the average in any other country in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Unfortunately, given these circumstances, Haiti will be unable by 2015 to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), the first of which is the reduction of extreme poverty and hunger by half. In this connection, one of the messages emphasized at this workshop was the critical need for a national poverty-reduction strategy, based on the MDG, in order to reverse this trend.

"In a country where it is acknowledged that a culture of dialogue has often been lacking, it is not a simple matter to bring together so many protagonists of different tendencies and divergent interests to listen to the views of the Government and development partners on the nation's present and future", declared Adama Guindo, UNDP Resident Representative and United Nations Resident Coordinator in Haiti. "The Government will have reason to be proud of this example of good governance, which will no doubt mark an important date in the history of Haiti".

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

Port-au-Prince/Haiti: Roromme Chantal, tel. +509 244 9361 to 65, roromme.chantal@undp.org

New York/USA: Victor Arango, tel. +1 (212) 906 6127, victor.arango@undp.org