The first round of presidential and parliament elections in Haiti has been rescheduled for February 7, revealed Sunday Chilean diplomat Juan Gabriel Valdes who is the United Nations envoy to the Caribbean country immersed in violent political turmoil.
The elections were scheduled for Sunday, January 8, after having been postponed four times since last November with local authorities claiming preparations were behind schedule. The election process is estimated will cost US$ 73 million and is financed by the international community.
The run off will be held February 15 with the elected president taking office March 29. Municipal and local elections are scheduled for April 30.
Last Friday the UN Security Council urged the interim Haiti government to establish a new time table, with the latest date February 7.
The new electoral program was announced few hours after the officer head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, (MINUSTAH) General Urano Teixeira da Matta Bacellar from Brazil was found dead of a head gunshot wound in his hotel room.
Apparently General Teixeira da Matta Bacellar committed suicide, even though the Brazilian government has been insisting that this is an unlikely version for what happened to the UN forces commander. The interim commander is now Chilean General Eduardo Aldunate Herman.
General Bacellar took over from another Brazilian general, Augusto Heleno Ribeiro last August 31 becoming the Brazilian contingent’s first casualty.
MINUSTAH was sent to Haiti to impose peace between the followers and enemies of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide who was ousted following an armed revolt in February 2004.
With 8.5 million people the Caribbean nation is among the poorest in the world and continues marred by political violence and a wave of kidnapping particularly in Port au Prince in spite of the UN 9.000 peace keeping force under the command of a Brazilian general.
Precisely General Teixeira da Matta Bacellar is believed to have been under intense pressure because of the poor results of the policing actions.
Haiti interim authorities and UN advisors have been working to organize the first presidential elections since the ousting of Aristide, but local authorities have blamed the UN mission and the Organization of American States, OAS, for the delay in setting up the network of polling booths and distribution of electoral IDs among 3.5 million voters.
The Haiti business community has called for a general strike Monday to protest the lack of security in Port au Prince poor neighborhoods, (most of the city) which have been virtually taken over by armed gangs in spite of the UN forces.
MINUSTAH comprises 6,700 troops, 1,622 police officers, 548 international officials, 154 U.N. volunteers and 995 Haitian staff members.
The Haiti peace mission includes troops from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Croatia, Ecuador, France, Guatemala, Jordan, Malaysia, Morocco, Nepal, Paraguay, Peru, the Philippines, Spain, Sri Lanka, the United States and Uruguay.
Mercopress – www.mercopress.com