OBAMA REJECTS CALL FOR CURTAILING AID TO HAITI
(Jamaica Observer) - CMC
QUEBEC, Canada — The Barack Obama administration has rejected a call by a leading American legislator to curtail aid to Haiti in the wake of what has been described as the recent fraudulent elections in the impoverished, French-speaking Caribbean Community country.
Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy, of Vermont, who chairs the US Senate subcommittee on foreign aid, urged Washington on Friday to withhold funding to the Haitian government, as well as suspend travel visas for senior Haitian officials until they ensure a “fair and democratic outcome” to the country's November 28 elections.
“As if Haiti did not have enough problems, now, once again, those in power there are trying to subvert the will of the people,” he said.
But in a meeting with North American foreign ministers here yesterday, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said cutting off aid to the earthquake-ravaged country is not the immediate panacea.
She said Haitians should not be punished, especially as they simultaneously try to battle the cholera epidemic and rebuild their country from the massive January 12 earthquake.
“I think Senator Leahy is expressing a growing frustration,” Clinton told reporters. “It is a very strong signal that we are expecting more and looking for more (from the Haitian government).
“But we don't want to punish the people of Haiti because of the flaws in their election,” she added.
Violent protests had rocked Haiti in the wake of disputed presidential and legislative elections in which at least five people were reportedly killed in two days of rioting last week.
Clinton and her Canadian counterpart, Lawrence Cannon, said they stand ready to provide technical and other support to the Haitian government, as it endeavours to resolve the elections’ dispute.
“It is essential that Haitian political actors fulfil their responsibilities and demonstrate a firm commitment to democratic principles, including respect for the integrity of the electoral process,” Cannon said.
“It is critical that the recounting of ballots be addressed in a timely and transparent manner, and that calm be restored to the streets,” he added.
Cannon had said ahead of yesterday’s meeting, which included Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, that Canada was willing to play an active role in Haiti’s ballot recount.