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Institution-Building and infrastructure crucial to Haiti’s progress

NEW YORK – Calling for immediate actions to ease suffering and build hope in Haiti, the Organization of American States (OAS) Assistant Secretary General, Albert R. Ramdin, said today that long-term institution-building and investment in infrastructure and economic activity are indispensable to a viable future for Haiti.

He announced OAS plans to coordinate and mobilize resources and efforts from other inter-American institutions, to boost long-term institution-building and social and economic reconstruction in Haiti.

Ambassador Ramdin told a United Nations Security Council “open debate” on Haiti that a strong, independent judiciary is needed, as is a legal framework to “protect human rights and make all equal in the eyes of the law.” This would provide a framework for critically needed economic investment, he argued, calling on Haiti’s President-Elect Réne Préval—who participated in the forum—to continue reaching out to multiple political and social sectors, and to build an open, inclusive government as a necessary basis for Haiti’s social and economic recovery and overall stability. Ramdin stressed that an expanded and professionalized police force is key to public security and to economic growth that benefits citizens.

Argentina’s Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana chaired the forum, which brought together at UN headquarters in New York a wide cross-section of participants, including foreign ministers, ambassadors and Juan Gabriel Valdés, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Haiti.

Ramdin hailed Préval’s victory at the polls, and called Haiti’s presidential and legislative elections of last month “a decisive victory of the Haitian people” that marks a return to Constitution rule and an opportunity for “a fresh start for a long-anticipated and necessarily long-term process of democratic consolidation, social and economic progress, and advances in security and stability.” Ramdin said the upcoming legislative elections, scheduled for April 21, will pave the way for Haiti’s return to more balanced powers and a truly representative democracy.

“We would urge the new government and the political forces which will shape the new parliament to seek ways in which to collaborate meaningfully, for the good of the Haitian people,” declared Ramdin, urging Préval to ensure that the scheduled June 18 municipal and local elections stay on course.

“We are encouraged by Mr. Préval’s emphasis on attending to the population’s basic needs in terms of health, education, jobs and clean water, among others,” said Ramdin, who argued, “It will be up to the international community to also step up to the plate to assist the new Haitian government in quickly attending to some of the most urgent humanitarian and socioeconomic needs of Haiti’s poor, a large segment of the population of Haiti which has traditionally been overlooked and dispossessed.”

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