February 4, 2013

Haitian leader risking failure, organization reports

The international group cites a pressing need for consensus building among Haiti's factions.

The Miami Herald

An international anti-conflict group has warned that there is little cause for optimism in Haiti, and that without a national accord, the country risks continued crisis.

Delayed elections, a vicious cycle of mistrust and 128 public protests from August to October against Haitian President Michel Martelly risk jeopardizing Martelly's presidency and the chance for Haiti to finally dig itself out of decades of political conflict and the ruins of the Jan. 12, 2010, earthquake, the International Crisis Group said.

"Haiti is in a race against time to convince its own people, donors and potential investors that progress and stability are achievable," the Crisis Group said in the report that will be published Monday. "Without a national pact, President Martelly unfortunately faces the specter of a failed presidency, and Haiti risks international abandonment."

The Crisis Group is the latest nongovernmental organization to fold operations in Haiti. The organization arrived in Haiti in 2004 after a coup led to the ouster of its democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

It has issued 21 reports on the situation in the country, which is still struggling to recover from the earthquake, and to stabilize its democracy.

Foreign donors express growing frustration with Haiti's continued political conflict, which is hampering reconstruction.

Last week, the head of U.N. peacekeeping in Haiti, Chilean diplomat Mariano Fernandez, lamented the inability of Haitian politicians to sign a "governability pact" to work together.

For Haiti to advance, he said, the country's political, economic and social elite need to agree.

The International Crisis Group report makes several recommendations for how the political, social and economic elite could finally find a way to work together, including looking at similar pacts that have been achieved in various Latin American nations. It also offers recommendations for the international community, which the report notes, is not without blame in the ongoing Haitian crisis.

"Polarized politics have produced a complex political and socio-economic context for international cooperation," the report says.

The report's strongest warning, however, is for Martelly, whose presidency has been punctuated by conflicts since his 2011 election.

"While he has shown exceptional ability to connect with Haitians, both rich and poor, in Haiti and abroad, he has not sufficiently used that capacity to address factors that could reduce political tensions and build national consensus," the report says.

To avoid political paralysis and break Haiti's cycle of crises, Martelly must, among other things, follow up on reforms and find a way to win the trust of his opponents and the Haitian people, the report says.

"President Martelly needs to break the domestic stalemate and demonstrate Haiti is embarked on consensus building," it says.

 

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