Press Office (Rep. Engel) 202-226-8467
Keith Fernandez (Rep. Ros-Lehtinen) 305-668-5994; 202-225-8200
James Lewis (Rep. Lee) 202-225-2661
WASHINGTON, DC—Led by Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), the Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs; Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chair Emeritus of the Foreign Affairs Committee; and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), a bipartisan group of 61 Members of Congress today called on Secretary of State John Kerry to offer a strong American commitment to free, fair, and transparent elections in Haiti set to take place later this month and again in December. The group also praised Secretary Kerry’s recent travel to Haiti and focus on this issue.
“We believe it is essential that these next two rounds of elections meet basic international electoral standards and are seen as free, fair and legitimate by the majority of Haitians. To that end, we urge you to continue to provide necessary assistance to the OAS and other international and national observation groups and to offer the full support of the State Department to a robust Haitian and international electoral observation effort,” the Members wrote in a letter to Secretary Kerry.
Haiti held legislative elections in early August which the Organization of American States (OAS) accepted as valid, but in which OAS and other observers found some irregularities and concerns of fraud, violence, and voter intimidation. Highlighting the longstanding United States-Haiti friendship, the Members underscored the importance of supporting Haitians as they vote in the first round of presidential elections, municipal elections, and run-off legislative elections scheduled for October 25th and in run-off presidential elections on December 27th.
Full text of the letter follows, and an image of the signed letter can be found here.
October 9, 2015
The Honorable John F. Kerry
Secretary of State
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20520
Dear Secretary Kerry:
As longtime friends of Haiti in the United States Congress, we write to express our support for a strong United States commitment to free, fair and transparent elections in the country and to thank you for your recent travel there. As you know, Haiti is an important U.S. neighbor and partner in the Caribbean. After the country’s devastating earthquake in January 2010, the United States rightfully invested billions of dollars in reconstruction in the country. We must continue to provide Haiti with this crucial support.
Moving forward, we can continue to stand with the Haitian people by supporting the current electoral process. As past experience has demonstrated, a credible and inclusive electoral process is critical for stability in Haiti. We believe it is crucial for the Organization of American States (OAS) and other international institutions to continue to work with Haitian officials to ensure that upcoming elections take place without irregularities and free of violence. Voter intimidation and violence of any form cannot be tolerated.
As you know, on August 9th, Haiti held long overdue legislative elections. OAS electoral observers found some irregularities but determined that these matters were not sufficient to invalidate the results. Local electoral observers expressed concern, reporting numerous incidents of fraud, violence and voter intimidation. Looking ahead, the first round of presidential elections, municipal elections and run-off legislative elections will take place on October 25th. Run-off presidential elections will be held on December 27th.
We believe it is essential that these next two rounds of elections meet basic international electoral standards and are seen as free, fair and legitimate by the majority of Haitians. To that end, we urge you to continue to provide necessary assistance to the OAS and other international and national observation groups and to offer the full support of the State Department to a robust Haitian and international electoral observation effort. It is also critical that the State Department send a clear message to the Haitian government underscoring the need to guarantee the security of voters and candidates during the electoral campaign and on the day of the elections. For a number of years now, our government has helped Haiti strengthen its national police; now is the time for the national police to demonstrate that it is able and willing to protect Haitian citizens as they exercise their most fundamental democratic right.
Thank you very much for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to working with you to continue to stand with our friends in Haiti.