Originally: South African president, AU commit to ensuring elections held in Haiti

Pretoria 18 January: The African Union is working out details of a programme to ensure that free and fair elections are held in Haiti, President Thabo Mbeki said on Tuesday.

The immediate focus was to start a national dialogue and negotiations to find a political solution to that country’s problems – leading to democratic elections.

This should be followed by democratic rule, constitutional order, peace stability and development, Mbeki told reporters after a meeting with ousted Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide and AU Commission chairman Alpha Konare.

Konare had just briefed Mbeki and Aristide on his visit to Haiti last month for talks with that country’s political leaders to identify possible solutions.

He held discussions with Haiti’s current interim government, leaders of Aristide’s party, other political parties and institutions, and representatives of the United Nations. Mbeki said South Africa and Aristide were ready to aid the process in whatever way the Commission decided.

The Commission would work with other organizations such as the community of Caribbean nations, Caricom  and the United Nations. The AU’s involvement, Mbeki added, was at the request of Haiti’s political leaders.

Aristide thanked Mbeki and Konare and committed himself on behalf of the Haitian people to work with the AU to have peace and constitutional order restored in his country.

For his part, Konare said Haiti’s transition should not be allowed to “go beyond the normal term.”

“We must strive to create conditions so that a new regime, elected democratically, can be set up in Haiti,” he said through an interpreter.”We must create a framework for non-violent national dialogue and a situation where no political forces are excluded.”

Aristide, he said, had agreed “to engage himself in such a mission.”