23 November 2010
Press Conference

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Press Conference by Senior United Nations Officials on Situation in Haiti


About 4.5 million voters would be able to head to more than 11,000 polling stations in nearly 1,500 districts throughout Haiti to cast a vote in the 28 November presidential and legislative elections, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative told reporters at a Headquarters press conference today, via video teleconference from the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince.

Despite outbursts of violence carried out by a combination of frustrated political actors, traditional spoilers and criminal gangs, this Caribbean island nation was expected to successfully stage the elections, said Edmond Mulet, Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).  Preliminary results of the voting, which included 19 candidates for president, 816 candidates for parliament and spanned 66 political parties, were scheduled to be announced on 7 December, with the final results set for release on 20 December.  If necessary, a second round of voting would be held on 16 January 2011.

Mr. Mulet said the Haitian nation was on track for “free, fair and credible elections” and that the Provincial Election Council had been up to its task and followed “to the letter” the guidelines surrounding the electoral process.  He acknowledged that violence could erupt, as it had in previous elections, and that there could be burning of the balloting stations.  But security forces had been adequately trained to provide safe conditions at the polling stations.  The level of security needed at various polling stations had already been assessed, and officials were monitoring the situation.

Joining Mr. Mulet, also via video teleconference, to talk about the country’s cholera outbreak was Nigel Fisher, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Ad Interim, for MINUSTAH.  He said it had been 39 days since the first case of cholera had been reported.  The lack of adequate sanitation and clean water had created conditions that let the disease spread more quickly, and the number of cases was increasing, as expected.

He said the response to the epidemic should be “ratcheted up”, including through more adequate water supplies, improved hygiene and more doctors and nurses.  Also critical were more drugs, equipment and human resources, as the limits of the existing resources were being reached.  It was necessary to create more treatment centres.  The United Nations was working with local officials to calm people’s fears — some had demonstrated against the opening of new treatment centres — and to educate them.

The epidemic was expected to continue through the next months or even year, as it was a very contagious strain of cholera, he added.  People who had contracted the disease did not necessarily display symptoms for days afterwards.

* *** *

For information media • not an official record