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ADDRESS BY Ambassador Roger F. Noriega
Washington, DC

December 9, 2002
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

The Delegation of the United States wishes to thank Assistant Secretary General Einaudi for his report and for his dedicated and sustained personal efforts in favor of democracy in Haiti. We also wish to thank Ambassador David Lee and the members of the OAS Special Mission to Haiti for their hard work.

The United States is committed to democracy in Haiti and remains convinced that the path to this goal is clearly set forth in the commitments made in OAS Resolution 822, approved unanimously 95 days ago. Resolution 822 laid out a clear process for the Government of Haiti, with support from the OAS Special Mission, to promote a climate of security, strengthen the rule of law, and prepare for free and fair legislative and local elections in 2003.

The political violence of recent weeks, some of it committed with direct support of the Government and its adherents, which has produced the failure to reach closure on formation of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), shows that the Government has yet to fulfill its commitments. This is despite the unstinting efforts of the OAS Special Mission and other parties to provide guidance and mediation to facilitate any Government efforts.

We call on the Government of Haiti to act immediately to cease gang violence, to pay in full the reparations due for damages from the violence of December 17, 2001, and to dramatically improve the security climate, particularly for those Haitians trying to exercise their fundamental civil rights.

When these steps are accomplished, we expect the Convergence Democratique to do its part by naming its representative to the CEP. Convergence Democratique representation in the CEP is critical, and it must take an active role by nominating a qualified member. We note that, at least before the recent unrest, some members of civil society were willing to participate in this process as the most democratic route to a resolution of Haiti?s political crisis.

This is critical, Mr. Chairman, because only a CEP that includes all key democratic sectors could conduct elections worthy of the support and recognition of the international community.

At the same time, the Government must follow through both on the letter and spirit of its other commitments under Resolution 822. Among these are:

· Prosecuting those who engaged in politically-motivated crimes, particularly those committed during the violence of December 17, 2001, and political murders such as those of journalists Jean Dominique and Brignol Lindor.

· Enacting measures to strengthen the independence of its national police and judiciary. Key among these would be the dismissal of known corrupt officials from among the high ranks of the police.

· Undertaking a comprehensive disarmament program, one that takes weapons away from the gangs that are currently controlling the streets in places like Gonaives and Cite Soleil. A disarmament program that does not reduce criminal violence is not an effective program.

· Following through on other still-unfulfilled commitments under OAS Resolution 806.

· Implementing steps to support human rights and the press, promote national dialogue, and ensure the independence and security of the Electoral Council once it is operational.

These measure, if enacted, will significantly improve the political climate in Haiti and help ensure that legislative and local elections can take place next year in an orderly, fair and transparent manner.

We in the OAS community must do our part to demonstrate our continued commitment to Resolution 822. A crucial issue is funding for the OAS Special Mission and elections in 2003. Member and observer states need to redouble their efforts to make certain that the Special Mission has the resources it needs to carry out its important work.