Clinton Haiti Meeting Moved Due to Unrest

By Dialogo
December 15, 2010

A meeting between UN envoy Bill Clinton and Haitian Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive on 14 December has been moved to the neighboring Dominican Republic because of the post-election unrest.

“Given the unpredictability of the situation in Port-au-Prince, the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) has decided to hold its next board meeting in Santo Domingo,” a statement said.

Former US president Clinton, who was the United Nations envoy to Haiti even before a devastating earthquake in January that killed 250,000 people, has been chairing regular meetings of the IHRC.

The commission was set up in the wake of the quake to oversee the massive reconstruction effort which is to be funded by 10 billion dollars pledged by the international community.

The task has been made harder by an ongoing cholera epidemic and political unrest in the wake of November 28 polls that President Rene Preval is accused of rigging in favor of a handpicked successor.

“The IHRC is now, more than ever, committed to the long-term reconstruction process, whoever gets elected president,” IHRC executive director Gabriel Verret said.

Preval is alleged to have rigged the elections to give ruling party candidate Jude Celestin a place in a second round run-off in January 2011 ahead of opposition candidate Michel Martelly, a popular singer-turned-politician.

UN peacekeepers in riot gear had to restore order in major cities last week after at least five people were killed in politically charged riots, but the streets of Port-au-Prince have been calm since 10 December.

Membership of the 28-member quake recovery commission is 50 percent foreign and 50 percent Haitian. Preval retains veto powers over its decisions but Clinton is widely viewed as holding the purse strings of foreign aid.

The ex-president’s wife, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, warned Haitian leaders on 13 December to heed a top senator’s calls for freezing US aid as a “very strong signal that we expect more and we’re looking for more.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy on 10 December called for Washington to freeze US aid to Haiti’s government and deny travel visas to its top officials to force a fair outcome to elections.