WASHINGTON D.C, United States, Friday February 7, 2014 (CMC) – US President Barack Obama says he is encouraged with the progress being made by Haiti in scheduling long overdue elections in the country. During a meeting with Haitian President Michel Martelly on Thursday, Obama noted Haiti’s progress since the devastation, including improvements in security and infrastructure, but said it’s been “a very slow and difficult process.”
“I think we all recognize that we all have a lot more work to do,” Obama said. “My message today to the president and the people of Haiti is that the American people are committed to standing with you in this process. We want to make sure that all the children of Haiti are able to lead lives of opportunity, prosperity and security.”
The US President said he was pleased that Haiti had made progress on a new election law that will “help resolve some of the political roadblocks” and lead to elections this year.
The meeting, the first between the two leaders was held as Martelly faces increasing domestic and international pressure to schedule the long-delayed Senate and municipal elections in the country still recovering from the devastating earthquake in 2010.
On Wednesday, 53 political parties ended the first phase of negotiations with the Martelly administration to stage one election this year — it will also include the entire 99-member lower chamber, which is up in October. The 10 days of talks were mediated by the Catholic Church, and on Tuesday nearly two dozen political party representatives will sit down with the executive to fine-tune the accord.
“We’re in a process of dialogue where today we’ve found a compromise,” Sauveur Pierre Etienne, leader of the opposition Organization of People in Struggle (OPL), said from Port-au-Prince.
Obama said he looked forwa
rd to working with Martelly on issues, such as human rights, judiciary reform and dealing with corruption.
“We will continue to stand by Haitian democracy, Haitian leadership and the Haitian people in this slow and steady progress that needs to take place,” Obama said. Martelly, who met Wednesday with members of Congress and Secretary of State John Kerry, said he wanted to thank the U.S. “for always standing by the Haitian people.”