President of Haiti Michel Martelly (2nd right) greets Jamaican Ambassador to the United States and Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), Stephen Vasciannie (left) after he addressed a special session of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) on February 7, 2014 Looking on are OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza (R) and various other ambassadors to the OAS. Photo: Derrick Scott
By Derrick Scott
WASHINGTON, USA -- President of Haiti, Michel Martelly says political dialogue is taking place in his country to convene legislative and municipal elections in 2014, and expressed his support for the debate currently underway among member states over the strategic vision of the hemispheric institution.
In his address to the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) at a protocolary meeting of the Council convened in his honour at the OAS in Washington last Friday, Martelly explained that, with the support of the Catholic Church, an “inter-Haitian and consensual dialogue is taking place that will allow us to define a frame of reference for the consolidation of our achievements in terms of democratic governance and to ensure the predictability of our system for the regular holding of democratic and inclusive elections, necessary for political stability and the economic and social development of Haiti.”
“I am pleased by the progress made in the electoral process that will culminate with the election of the legislature and local authorities during 2014, strengthened by the adoption and publication of the Electoral Law and the law on the operation of political parties,” added the president, in the presence of all the permanent representatives of the member countries of the OAS, in a ceremony held in the Hall of the Americas at the headquarters of the Organization in Washington DC.
The Haitian leader expressed his support for the debate over the strategic vision of the OAS being held in the Permanent Council, product of an initiative of the secretary general.
“I would like to thank and congratulate the secretary general, José Miguel Insulza, for having started a reflection and a profound debate on the strategic vision of the OAS for the coming decades. It is a debate that should be promoted and encouraged,” he said.
The president of Haiti assured that his country is on the road to recovery from the devastating earthquake of January 2010 and recalled that it celebrates 210 years of independence this year and stressed that his government devotes 14 percent of its budget to education. By way of example, he noted that the country provides free education to 1.4 million children, has restored more than 1,000 damaged schools and built 369 new ones.
Martelly noted his country’s closeness to the OAS, with which it will co-organize a meeting for investors in the middle of this year, and its commitment to host the General Assembly of the Organization in 2015.
"We hope to see you in Haiti in July 2014, during our meeting on investment and, in June 2015, during the 45th Regular Meeting of the OAS General Assembly," he said.
In his address, Insulza stressed the "full commitment of the OAS to Haiti," one of the founding members of the hemispheric Organization, noting the leadership of Martelly in the reconstruction of the country after the earthquake four years ago.
"The progress made of this effort is obvious, but the road ahead remains long and complex challenges remain," he added.
The secretary general also referred to the efforts of the Haitian government in pursuit of political dialogue and the strengthening of its democracy.
"Today we emphasize the latest initiative of the political dialogue in which the President was personally involved," he recalled, recommending to those involved "in this inter-Haitian dialogue between the executive, the legislature and political parties under the direction of the president and of the Episcopal Conference, to work together to reach an agreement leading to free, fair and inclusive elections in 2014, in order to address in the long run in an ever-more efficient manner the other essential political issues in the country.”
The OAS leader recalled some of the programs with which the Organization supports Haiti, like the configuration of its census.
“I want to recall that the OAS, between 2005 and 2012, assisted the National Identification Office with the registration and delivery of identity cards to more than five million people, and we want to continue this cooperation,” he said.
For his part, the chair of the Council and permanent representative of the Dominican Republic, Pedro Vergés, highlighted the presence of all member states of the OAS at the reception of Martelly “as a sign of the willingness of the region to help Haiti in its economic recovery.”
“In this Permanent Council we feel the advances in Haiti as our own, the achievements of Haiti are, for us, reasons to be proud,” said the chair of the Council.
Before the beginning of the Council meeting, Insulza received Martelly in his office at the headquarters of the Organization in a private meeting.