U.S. and Haiti Have Much Work to Do Together, Clinton Says

By Stephen Kaufman

WASHINGTON, DC – — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton reaffirmed continued U.S. support for Haiti’s people through its reconstruction, redevelopment and humanitarian assistance and urged Haiti to move forward with the second round of its presidential election “so that there can be an orderly transfer of authority and a new president can get to work.”

Speaking in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, with RFM Internet Radio January 30, Clinton said, “We are here to reassert our commitment. We are impatient; we are determined to work with the people of Haiti to accelerate the progress.”

There has been progress in the one year since the January 12, 2010, earthquake, “but not nearly enough,” she said. “We have an enormous amount of work to do together.”

The Obama administration wants to do more than simply rebuild the structures that were destroyed in the disaster, she said. “We want to have a better education system and health care system. We want more economic opportunity.”

The United States also wants to see Haiti decide which candidates will appear on the ballot for the second round of the presidential election. After reports of irregularities following the first round of voting November 28, 2010, the Organization of American States (OAS) reviewed results and recommended that the second round include the third-place candidate, Michel Martelly.

Clinton met with all three presidential contenders — Mirlande Manigat, Jude Celestin, and Martelly — as well as current President Rene Preval during her visit to Haiti and said the United States supports the OAS recommendations, which “reflect the best analysis possible about the intentions of the Haitian people when they voted.”

The decision “is up to the government and people of Haiti,” she said. But “we would like to see Haiti resolve their election and install a new president so that we can begin the hard work that still lies ahead.”

Haiti’s electoral council is expected to announce the final results of the first round on February 2. The second round of voting reportedly is scheduled for March 20.

“The important task now is to set out the schedule and make sure that we hold a free and fair second round,” Clinton said.

Addressing the Haitian people, she said, “Do not give up. Democracy is worth investing in. It must deliver results for the people, and the United States will stand with you. We know how hard this is, and we admire your courage.”

In her January 30 interview with Haiti’s Radio Metropole, Clinton said that having a new and stable government will help with the reconstruction effort.

Secretary Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, is the United Nations special envoy to Haiti and is “absolutely committed” to the reconstruction effort, she said.

“About two weeks ago, he announced projects that could employ 20,000 Haitians or more. But there needs to be a government and there needs to be stability in that government for a former president, for the international community, to really be a good partner, which is why we hope that there will be a resolution of the election soon,” she said.

Clinton said she hopes the efforts by the United States and others in the international community to help Haiti respond to the challenges of disaster and impoverishment, as well as help the development of Haitian democracy, will be seen as “an effort genuinely to give a better life to the people of Haiti.”

The secretary also visited the Partners in Health Cholera Treatment Center in Port-au-Prince January 30, where she was told that although the situation is improving and there has been a decrease in human fatalities due to the disease, cholera will likely remain in Haiti for a long time.

Clinton said the United States is “very committed” to continuing its support for efforts to treat and prevent cholera and said she was impressed by what has been done in the short period of time since the first cases of the disease were confirmed in October 2010.

“I want to reassure and reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the needs of the Haitian people, the health needs and other needs that are present and in many ways exacerbated by the continuing efforts at reconstruction and redevelopment following the earthquake,” she said.

“We have a long way to go, just as we have a long way to go in our ongoing work with Haiti,” Clinton said.

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