WASHINGTON – The Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Albert R. Ramdin, who led a six-member political and technical mission to Port au Prince, left the Haitian capital Saturday after what the OAS diplomat described as “very positive and constructive consultations” with senior Haitian officials including the Haitian President, Rene Preval; Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive; Mr. Levaillant Louis Jeune, President of the Chamber of Deputies; the executive of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP); the Director General of the Office for National Identities (ONI); political parties; civil society and the private sector, as well as the press.
“Having recognized that this is essentially a Haitian decision, one of the major objectives of this OAS mission was to engage Haitian government authorities, political parties and other important stakeholders on the likelihood of elections according to the Haitian constitutional calendar and to gauge the common sentiments and perspectives on holding elections later this year.
“I can say that the series of meetings was quite instructive.” In terms of the possible holding of elections later this year, Ramdin also expressed “satisfaction with the responsiveness and confidence expressed by elements of the civil society, private sector and political parties”.
“We are at a very important juncture and it is important to have clarity. There are political and technical issues to be addressed in the short term in preparation for the elections. There seems to be general agreement that the Presidential, Legislative and Local elections could be held in one electoral exercise, while more reflection will be required on how to deal with the proposed constitutional reforms. Whatever decision is made by the Haitian authorities, the OAS stands ready to work with the Haitian Government and people as we have done for years”, emphasized Ramdin, who also sensed that many in Haiti believe that, in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake of 12 January, the opportunity should be seized for important and structural reforms.
Ambassador Ramdin also reassured the Haitian officials of the commitment of the OAS to continue working on the civil registry program and to address the new technical issues resulting from the earthquake such as the high number of displaced persons and the possible loss of identification documents. He also referred to his Organization’s ongoing support to the CEP and readiness, working with other partners, to undertake a Cadastre program in Haiti as soon as possible.
Additionally, technical experts in elections, civil registry and cadastre traveling with the mission held meetings with their Haitian counterparts to learn from them how best to realign current programs where necessary, consistent with OAS commitment, to meet the reality of the new Haitian socio-political and economic landscape in the wake of the devastating January 12 earthquake.
The Chairman of the Haiti Task Force and the Haiti Group of Friends will present a comprehensive report to the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States.