Haiti aid hinges on credible elections: U.S.

Haiti must have credible elections to maintain international support, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice tells the United Nations.
Graffiti in Port-au-Prince reads 'Welcome back J.C. Duvalier,' a nod to the recent return of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier to his homeland. ((Eduardo Munoz/Reuters) )

Haiti must have credible elections to maintain international support, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the UN on Thursday.

The U.S. representative to the United Nations told the Security Council that the United States welcomes the recommendations made by the Organization of American States, including an OAS call for runoff elections in Haiti.

U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice says Haiti must hold credible elections if it hopes to continue to receive international support. ((Lucas Jackson/Reuters))

The results of a Nov. 28 presidential election are under challenge.

"Sustained support from the international community, including the United States, requires a credible process that represents the will of the Haitian people, as expressed by their votes," she told the 15-member council.

Rice further urged Haitian officials to "outline a very clear way forward that will lead promptly to the inauguration of a legitimate and democratically elected government."

"The political situation is very complicated" since former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier's unexpected return on Sunday, UN peacekeeping chief Alain Le Roy said Thursday.

Duvalier slips out

In Port-au-Prince, Duvalier quietly left his luxury hotel to an undisclosed location.

Duvalier left through a back entrance, avoiding journalists camped out in front of the Hotel Karibe. He had been staying at the hotel since his surprise arrival in Haiti four days ago after 25 years of exile in France.

Haiti's former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier gestures to supporters on the balcony of his hotel room in Port-au-Prince on Wednesday. He has now left the luxury hotel. ((Ramon Espinosa/Associated Press))

It wasn't immediately known where he was headed. A Duvalier lawyer had said earlier that the former president would stay in Haiti.

Duvalier is facing a number of legal attempts to hold him to account for his regime. The latest came Wednesday, when four Haitians who were jailed by the Duvalier regime — a former United Nations official among them — filed criminal complaints with a prosecutor in Port-au-Prince.

"Mr. Duvalier came back to Haiti, thinking that he could actually enjoy the climate of impunity that has existed in this country for quite a while," said Michèle Montas, a Haitian journalist and former spokeswoman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"I think he was hoping that he could do as if nothing had happened and get back to business as usual. What I do know is that we cannot allow this to happen."

Applied for new passport

Duvalier applied for a new passport on Wednesday. A spokesman said the former dictator planned to leave the country when he gets it, but said Duvalier's departure was not imminent.

"He is home here. He is a Haitian," Yves Germain Joseph said. "Nobody can ask Mr. Duvalier or any Haitian to leave his country at any time."

Duvalier was briefly detained on Tuesday by a prosecutor who charged him with corruption, theft and misappropriation of funds amid accusations he stole up to $300 million from federal coffers.

The 59-year-old led the Caribbean nation from 1971 until 1986, when he fled during a popular rebellion.

A lawyer for Duvalier said he would fight the corruption charges, saying the statute of limitations has expired for him to be tried on charges relating to his presidency.

Aristide: 'I am ready' to return

Haitians learned Wednesday that another former president — Jean-Bertrand Aristide  — says he is ready to return to the country he was ousted from more than six years ago "at any time."

Former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide appears at a press conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, this month. ((Associated Press))

Aristide has been in exile in South Africa since 2004.

On Wednesday, he sent a message to supporters saying he was ready to come back.

"As far as I'm concerned, I am ready," he wrote in an email posted online. "The purpose is very clear: To contribute to serving my Haitian sisters and brothers as a simple citizen in the field of education."

He said he was ready to leave South Africa "today, tomorrow, at any time."

Aristide said he would not seek elected office if he comes back, even though he remains popular in his native country.

With files from CBC News