THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FACT SHEET ON HAITIAN ELECTIONS
The holding of national elections on June 25 represents a milestone in the joint efforts of the Haitian people, the United States, and the international community to restore democracy to Haiti. Nine months after the U.S.-led coalition was sent to Haiti, the country will freely choose its representatives in the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies, and at the local level. Approximately 3.4 million Haitians have registered to vote out of a total eligible population of roughly 4 million. Over 10,000 candidates belonging to more than 60 parties will be running for 2,200 public offices. Local debates are being held and candidates have been able to present their views to the electorate.
The elections represent, first and foremost, a success for the Haitian people. The task of building a new democracy was and remains theirs. But the United States has been an active partner in this endeavor:
On the security side, President Clinton's decision to send an international force to remove a brutal military dictatorship was the first step in Haiti's march towards democracy. The goal of the U.S.-led coalition was to establish a safe and secure environment, a pre-requisite for a peaceful, democratic life. That mission was accomplished, as attested by the United Nations Security Council decision to transition to a UN Coalition last March. Tens of thousands of weapons have been confiscated or purchased back. Together with its Haitian and international allies, the United States also helped train an interim police force. Today, the 6,000 UNMIH peacekeepers and the Haitian police force are ensuring that the electoral campaign and the elections can take place without the large-scale political violence to which Haiti had become accustomed.
On the political side, the Administration has taken steps to build confidence in the democratic process and promote a national dialogue both among the political parties and between the parties and the Electoral Council. This culminated with last month's Presidential Mission to Haiti on elections and democracy, which was led by US AID Administrator Brian Atwood.
On the technical and financial side, the Administration has strongly supported Haiti's electoral process. The United States is providing $6.9 million to the Government of Haiti to help organize the elections. In addition, U.S. governmental grants have made it possible for non-governmental organizations such as the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems to train political party pollwatchers and pollworkers, organize candidate forums, procure ballots and registration cards, and promote voter education.