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Stay out of Haiti politics, India to UN

world Updated: Jan 23, 2011 14:15 IST
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India has underlined the need for the UN to focus on the humanitarian and infrastructural work in Haiti, which was rocked by a massive earthquake last year, saying the world body should not get too deeply embroiled in the country's internal politics.

"The focus of the UN should, of course, remain on the humanitarian and infrastructural work," Hardeep Singh Puri, Indian ambassador to the UN, told the powerful UN Security Council, which India joined as a non-permanent member for a two-year term earlier this month.

"It should not get too deeply involved in the domestic political process, which is better handled by the regional organisations in cooperation with the local political establishment," he said during a meeting on Haiti.

Haiti, which is still trying to recover from the earthquake that claimed more than 300,000 lives and left over a million displaced, has been simultaneously struck by cholera epidemic and a political crisis.

"After a year marked by the devastating earthquake of 12 January 2010, and the ongoing cholera epidemic, it is of paramount importance that the current political crisis is brought to a swift conclusion," Alain Le Roy, the chief of peacekeeping, told the Security Council at the meeting.

The government led by President Rene Preval has been accused of rigging the results of a preliminary poll after the Provisional Electoral Council announced that former first lady Mirlande Manigat and Jude Celestin, Preval's party candidate, were qualifying for the run-off elections.

However, an independent mission from the Organisation of American States (OAS) reportedly recommended that a third candidate and popular singer, Michel Martelly, should be put ahead of Celestin.

The UN is now calling for the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to take into account the recommendations of the OAS commission but Preval isn't convinced by its findings.

"At this critical juncture, it is vital that the CEP be allowed to carry out its work without political interference," Le Roy said.

Tensions in the country have been further heightened by the return of former ruler, Jean Claude Duvalier, who was president from 1971 to 1986, from exile in France.

Since his unexpected return almost a week ago, Duvalier is being investigated by a local court for embezzlement and fraud as well as crimes against humanity.

"I return to show my solidarity in this extremely difficult period of national life where you are still hundreds of thousands living under the stars, amid the ruins," he said in a speech posted online by the Haitian media.

For its part, India, which gave USD 5 million to the post-earthquake relief efforts, urged all parties in Haiti to stay calm and focus on the country's reconstruction.

"We think that concerted reconstruction and rehabilitation work demand stable political and administrative conditions," Puri said. "We, therefore, call upon all political actors in Haiti to exercise restraint and avoid actions that cause violence and distract focus from the urgently needed reconstruction and rehabilitation work."

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