Haiti will reach a major historic milestone this summer. Starting Aug. 9, some 6 million Haitians will choose 1,280 representatives for local administrations, 140 mayors, 139 Parliamentarians and, finally, their president. The several rounds of electoral processes could last until the end of the year.
It has not been easy to arrive at this moment. The Haitian people have been waiting three years for these elections. Parliament has been absent since January. Haiti has made significant strides to restore confidence in the political process and to hold elections on time. The electoral council, appointed in January, has been impressive in taking on several challenging technical, logistical and financial tasks aiming to ensure a credible, inclusive and transparent process. The electoral law and calendar were promulgated in March, the majority of political parties have fielded candidates and the national police have been working to ensure a secure environment for the elections.
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH, the United Nations Development Programme and other U.N. partners have invested significant effort over recent years to strengthen national electoral capabilities.
Much work has already been accomplished, but much more needs to be done to complete elections of such scale and complexity. Thus far, the joint effort by the national authorities and international donors has generated enough resources to finance only the first round of polls on Aug. 9.
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We cannot stop here. We appeal to all of Haiti’s international partners to step up their efforts and support Haiti in crossing the finish line of this march toward peace and stability. While important contributions have been received from Haiti’s partners, there is a crucial gap that needs to be filled. Without this support, the completion of the electoral cycle risks being jeopardized, as does Haiti’s hard-won progress.
These elections will mark the longest period of institutional stability that the country has enjoyed in its recent history. It will be the second time since 2006 that a democratically elected president will hand over power to his successor. The process will have a positive effect on the sub-region, promoting socioeconomic development and regional stability.
While it is important for Haiti’s international partners to continue to lend their generous support to the country’s democratic process, it is equally crucial for Haiti’s government to manage this properly and ensure its institutions have all that is required to fully take charge of the elections.
On July 16, the United Nations, the prime minister of Haiti, government officials and international partners are to meet in New York, a major opportunity to reaffirm our common commitment to the democratic consolidation of the country and our solidarity with its people’s aspirations and hopes for progress.
The people of Haiti have struggled for decades to consolidate democracy in the country. In 1986, a popular uprising removed the Duvalier regime. Today, in 2015, there are over 38,000 candidates for the local elections alone. A vibrant democracy is alive and well in Haiti, and the Haitian people recognize that governance is everyone’s responsibility.
Across the globe in countries where democracy, good governance and respect for the rule of law is the norm, political power is contested through peaceful and democratic means. Citizens adopt peaceful and democratic methods to solve the problems they face. Dialogue and tolerance become the order of the day. Haiti, one of the world’s oldest democracies, is ready for this transition and deserves our full support.
Hervé Ladsous is the under-secretary-general for the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations. Jessica Faieta is U.N. assistant secretary-general and U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) director for Latin America and the Caribbean.