Clinton in Haiti to Mediate Political Impasse

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Sunday, 30 January 2011 19:55

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton flew out to Haiti in an attempt to mediate the political crisis there while other administration officials are keeping watch on violent protests halfway across the world in Egypt.

Clinton met on Sunday with President Rene Preval and the three candidates vying to succeed him. Haiti's political crisis stems from a first-round presidential election in November that was marred with irregularities.

After meeting with Preval, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States has no plans to suspend aid to Haiti, but did say she wants Haiti to adopt the internationally backed solution to the election dispute by dropping candidate Jude Celestin from the final round set for March 20.

Monitors from the Organization of American States have urged outgoing President Rene Preval's preferred candidate, Jude Celestin, to withdraw from the run-off election. Those monitors have said they found evidence of widespread fraud in Celestin's favor, in preliminary results from the first-round of voting on November 28.

Those results showed Celestin securing second place, narrowly qualifying him for the run-off ahead of the apparent third-place finisher, popular singer Michel Martelly. The election front-runner, former Haitian first lady Mirlande Manigat, was in first place.

The publication of preliminary results last month triggered days of violent protests by opposition supporters angered by what they saw as vote-rigging by Haiti's government.

Haiti's ruling party has urged Celestin to pull out of the presidential race, but he has not confirmed his exit. Haiti's election commission has said it will publish final results of the disputed first round of voting on Wednesday.

Haiti is struggling to recover from last year's earthquake that left more than 200,000 people dead and 1 million others homeless.

The country also is also battling a cholera outbreak that has killed 4,000 people since October. Clinton is due to visit a treatment center for cholera patients during her visit.

Source: VOA News