March 2006 Monthly Forecast

Posted 24 February 2006
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AMERICAS

Haiti

Expected Council Action
The Council is expected to hold an open debate in March on the situation in Haiti and the future role for the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH). A presidential statement welcoming the results of the second round of parliamentary elections, to be held on 19 March, is also likely.

Recent Developments
After several postponements, on 7 February Haiti held its general elections. René Préval, former President and ally of Jean-Bertrand Aristide, emerged as the winner of the presidential elections following a week of confusion. The initial results of the elections, while showing a decisive lead by Préval (48.7 percent of the votes), suggested that a second round would still be required. The discovery of ballots in a garbage dump and a large number of cast blank ballots provoked anger by Préval’s supporters and accusations of electoral fraud. Increasing pressure from the street led the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to review the initial results. Eventually it was decided that the law permitted the CEP to modify the method of counting votes, especially the effect of the blank ballots. Ultimately, this gave Préval a final result of 51.2 percent and no need for a second round. Préval should be sworn in on 29 March.

The Security Council issued a presidential statement commending the Haitian people on the holding of elections, followed by a press statement congratulating Préval for his victory.

On 14 February, the Council also passed a resolution renewing the MINUSTAH mandate for six months (with the intention to renew it for further periods) and requesting the Secretary-General to report to the Council as soon as possible after the completion of the Haitian electoral process on ways to restructure MINUSTAH’s mandate in order to cope with longer-term challenges.

At the end of March, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General Juan Gabriel Valdès is due to leave his post; he should be replaced in April. A new Principal Deputy, Larry Rossin of the US, was appointed on 20 February.

Key Issues
The main issue in March will be the post-electoral UN role in Haiti, and more specifically how MINUSTAH could contribute to reinforcing democracy, ensuring security and promoting development. However, the UN will also have to take into account the future government’s requests in this regard. It seems likely to be at least April before this decision can be taken in the Council. However, the proposed open meeting in March will provide an open and transparent basis for beginning this process.

Council Dynamics
There is a general consensus on the necessity to define a post-electoral strategy for MINUSTAH. The Council seems to agree that the successful holding of elections does not constitute an end in itself. However, it also seems that members of the Group of Friends hold different views on what the priorities are, for instance, whether the UN should first work on promoting development or security.

Options
In March, the Council could, in addition to the open meeting envisaged:

  • start informal discussions on a draft mandate for the future UN role in Haiti;
  • adopt a presidential statement before the second round of elections to encourage a smooth process if problems start to emerge; and/or
  • adopt a presidential statement after the results of the elections are received in order congratulate the Haitians on the completion of the electoral process.

Underlying Problems
The stakes are still high for the second round of parliamentary elections. It is realistic to assume that Préval’s supporters will be reluctant to accept a defeat in the Parliament since its composition will influence the choice of the Prime Minister. Therefore, there is still a risk of renewed tensions.

Recent signals from former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide hinting at his possible return to Haiti after two years of exile in South Africa have given rise to fears of renewed unrest since there is strong opposition to his return. However, René Préval has already indicated that he would not oppose it.

Long-term challenges to stability in Haiti remain, such as:

  • reforming the Haitian National Police as well as the judicial system ;
  • promoting national reconciliation and inclusiveness;
  • fostering economic and social development and respect for human rights; and
  • implementing disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration programs.

Most Recent UN Documents

 Selected Council Resolutions
  • S/RES/1658 (14 February 2006) renewed the mandate of MINUSTAH until 15 August 2006.
 Selected Presidential Statements
  • S/PRST/2006/7 (9 February 2006) commended Haiti for the holding of elections.
  • S/PRST/2006/1 (6 January 2006) expressed concern over the more recent postponement of elections and urged the government to schedule new dates.
 Last Secretary-General’s Report

For historical background please refer to the December 2005 and February 2006 Forecast Reports.

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