Tensions simmer as Haitians await words from Préval

Synopsis by Albert N. Milliron

Haiti Remains the Poorest Nation in the Western Hemisphere with an average income of $1.00 per day.  Food prices have gone up by nearly 40% this year causing wide spread food shortages.  In addition there have been violent protests in the Capital city, Port-Au-Prince.  Meanwhile, kidnapping has increased.  These kidnappings are usually non life threating and are used to get 300-1600 USD

The State Department has increased its threat level for potential visitors to the impoverished country.  The UN Security Council released a statement to reporters today (Attached).

As pressure mounted late Tuesday on Haitian President René Préval to calm spreading violence over rising food prices, he ushered advisors out of his office and went into hours-long seclusion at the presidential palace.

Préval, who had spent most of his day in closed meetings with members of his government, advisors and international diplomats, still had not made a much-anticipated address to the nation as.of late Tuesday. The silence increased simmering tensions from the violence that had spread across the capital city of Port-au-Prince for a consecutive second day and massive protests elsewhere.

Haiti watchers said his words would be crucial in trying to quell the rising tensions, but it was unclear just what he might say: Would he offer up more reforms? Call for the resignation of his prime minister and other members of the government? Or would he himself resign in what has become the biggest challenge to his presidency since his February 2006 election?



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The following Security Council press statement on Haiti was read out today by Council President Dumisani S. Kumalo ( South Africa):

The members of the Security Council were briefed this morning on recent developments in Haiti by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), Hedi Annabi.

The members of the Security Council welcomed progress in stabilizing Haiti.  They expressed support for continued implementation of the Haitian National Police reform plan as well as MINUSTAH’s efforts to assist Haiti with securing its land and maritime borders.  They welcomed recent progress made towards judicial reform and in establishing rule of law, with MINUSTAH’s assistance.  They underscored the importance of continuing to promote respect for human rights.  They commended Haiti for the adoption of a strategic plan for the National Prison Administration and stressed the need to implement it.

The members of the Security Council strongly deplored the violence which took place on 4 April 2008, and expressed their deep regret about the loss of life.  They condemned the attack against MINUSTAH facilities in Les Cayes and stressed the importance of ensuring the security of UN personnel.

The members of the Security Council commended the decisions taken by the Government to organize senatorial and other indirect elections and they looked forward to the early adoption of the electoral law.  They recognized the continued cooperation of the Organization of the American States in voter registration as well as the willingness of donors to provide the necessary funding.

The members of the Security Council expressed concern at the humanitarian situation and encouraged the international donors to provide emergency relief.

The members of the Security Council, while noting the primary responsibility of the Government and the people of Haiti over the country’s stabilization, recognized the importance of sustained international support for Haiti’s efforts to tackle the challenges it confronts to achieve a sustained path to development.  They welcomed the long-term commitment of international donors and encouraged them to continue strengthening their levels of assistance.  In this regard, they welcomed Haiti’s call for a high-level international conference in Port-au-Prince on 25 April 2008.  They also reiterated their support for the Secretary-General’s intention to prepare a consolidation plan with benchmarks to measure continued progress, on the basis of consultation with the Haitian authorities.

The members of the Security Council reiterated their sustained support to the Government of Haiti and to MINUSTAH in their efforts towards ensuring stability, consolidating democracy, and sustaining conditions conductive to economic growth, social development and the delivery of humanitarian assistance and basic services to the Haitian people.  They expressed their determination to continue to closely follow the situation in Haiti.


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