Op-Ed

Democracy will be the winner in Haiti’s elections

A street barber shop attends to customers next to a wall decorated with candidate posters in Port-au-Prince, days before the Oct. 9 vote.
A street barber shop attends to customers next to a wall decorated with candidate posters in Port-au-Prince, days before the Oct. 9 vote. AP

Haiti is scheduled to re-launch its 2015 presidential electoral cycle on October 9. The United States encourages Haiti’s leaders and civil society to carry out the elections in October, and again on January 8, 2017, peacefully, transparently and credibly.

We encourage all eligible Haitians to go to the polls and exercise their right to choose Haiti’s next leader by casting their vote. The United States and other friends of Haiti are eager to have an elected Haitian president in place so that we can work together to help Haiti address its many challenges.

The United States has long supported democracy, democratic institutions and respect for human rights in Haiti. In 2015, we spent more than $30 million in support of peaceful, credible and transparent presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections.

As a result of those elections, a parliament has been seated since January 2016. And while we are not directly financing the 2016 electoral process, the United States continues to support these elections as the only way in which Haiti can return to constitutional rule and address the serious challenges it is facing. Consistent with our shared commitments under the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the U.S. government is funding an international observer mission from the Organization of American States (OAS) and local Haitian observers in an effort to strengthen transparency and bolster voter confidence in these elections.

We are encouraged by steps that Haiti’s electoral authority has taken to address the shortcomings identified in the previous election, notably the requirement that all participants identify their voting location in advance of election day.

We call on the government of Haiti to remain neutral in the electoral process. We reiterate our call for all actors, especially candidates and political parties, to engage peacefully in the political process. Violence has no place in the electoral process. We are encouraged by the Haitian National Police’s active role in planning for safe and secure elections.. Above all, we urge the Haitian people to participate peacefully in voting on the future of their country.

The United States does not support any specific candidate in this race; we support a fair and credible process, which we urge all participants to respect. If some candidates feel disadvantaged, or believe that they were a victim of fraud, there is a system of redress in place, which — as we did last year — we urge candidates to use.

The United States and Haiti are partners and neighbors. But to be true partners, Haiti needs a president whose election reflects the will of the Haitian people in order to address key issues such as electoral and judicial reform, anti-corruption measures and to spur economic growth.

We are eager to work together with that new president, whoever he or she may be, in our shared goal of ensuring that Haiti’s tomorrows will be better than its yesterdays, and will fulfill the promise of the Inter-American Democratic Charter for all the people of Haiti.

Mari Carmen Aponte is acting assistant aecretary of State for Western Hemisphere affairs.

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