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U.S., Haitian Partners Meet To Discuss Elections As Haitian Parliamentary Terms Expire

In an article examining elections in Haiti and their impact on the country’s recovery from the January 12 earthquake, the Miami Herald writes that Canada, the U.S., the Organization of American States, the U.N. and other partners have “dispatched top lieutenants [to Port-au-Prince] for a Monday meeting” with President Rene Preval to discuss elections.

“As of Monday, Haiti’s parliament will cease to exist as a law-making body because the mandate of the entire lower chamber of deputies, and one-third or 10 senators would have expired – preventing the passage of critical laws,” the newspaper writes. Last week, Preval said, “I understand we are in a difficult situation where people are not thinking about elections, but it’s also clear that the democratic process has to continue.” He continued, “We cannot leave the country without a parliament. We cannot leave the country without mayors. We cannot leave the country without a president.” 

According to the Miami Herald, “The United States and others are all opposed to an interim government, fearing that it could create instability or uncertainty. Monday’s discussions, which will include U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills … will focus on how to avoid an interim government. They’ll discuss a yet-to-be publicized U.N. report that found elections are possible ‘technically, logistically and financially,’ but there are things Preval must do to kick-start the process.” The actions he must take, include: deciding what type of elections to organize, setting a date for elections and deciding whether to take up constitutional reform (Charles, 5/9). 

In related news, the Washington Post interviews Mills about U.S. involvement in the Haitian rebuilding effort. In response to a question about the Haitian government’s role in rebuilding, Mills said, “This process won’t work without Haitian governance and leadership. … The U.S. government is targeting certain investments for building the strength and capacity, skills and talents of the Haitian government, as well as attracting new talent to government. We have a set of investments we anticipate making in a number of sectors – agriculture, energy, justice and health.”

Of the tent camps, Mills noted that the “shelters have been constructed to last up to several years.” According to Mills, though some people have been told they can return home, “people seek to remain in the temporary communities because, as surprising as that might seem outside of Haiti, life is better for many of them now” (Romano, 5/10).

News Outlets Examine Free Medical Care, Child Abandonment In Haiti

The News & Observer examines the effects of free medical care that has been available to Haitians after aid groups responded to the earthquake. Free clinics, “run daily in small schools, churches and under tarps in tent cities are both a blessing and a bane,” according to the newspaper. “Hospitals –many struggling financially before the earthquake and severely damaged afterward – have begun to close, in part because patients find their way to the free clinics instead. Other hospitals have cut staff and reduced hours.” The article includes accounts of the situation in Haiti from several people involved with providing health care on the ground (Quillin, 5/8).  

The Associated Press/Los Angeles Times looks at the increase in the number of children in Haiti who have been abandoned since the earthquake. “The catastrophic earthquake that left at least 1.3 million of Haiti’s 9 million people homeless was the final push over the edge for families that could barely afford to feed their children before. Now stuck in leaky tents with dwindling aid handouts, Haitian families are abandoning their children in the hope that rescue organizations will offer them a better life, aid workers say,” the news service reports. The article include details about how aid groups, such as UNICEF, are responding and includes a quote from an HIV-positive mother who has had to consider giving her child up for adoption (Callimachi, 5/9).

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