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Last Updated: Friday, 6 January 2006, 20:34 GMT
UN urges speedy Haiti elections
Posters of a candidate in next month's presidential election in Haiti
Many voters have not received election cards, say Haiti officials
The UN Security Council has called on Haiti's interim government to hold elections by 7 February.

It made the announcement after holding an emergency session to debate the continuing postponement of elections.

When a fourth delay was confirmed last week, Haitian officials accused the UN and the Organization of American States (OAS) of failing to play their part in preparing the election.

Both the UN and the OAS deny that they have failed in their task.

The poll was due to have been held on Sunday. It would have been the first since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in February 2004.

The Security Council called on Haiti to "expeditiously announce new and definitive dates for the elections, the first round to be held within weeks, but no later than February 7, 2006".

Reading a statement, the current council president, Tanzania's UN envoy Augustine Mahiga, said the elections should take place in accordance "with international democratic standards, and other conditions conducive to the widest possible participation".

Plagued by violence

"The Security Council reiterates that the future holding of elections is a fundamental step towards the restoration of democracy and stability in Haiti," he went on.

The statement expressed concern "over the deterioration of security" in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, and called on Haitian police and the UN mission in Haiti to "intensify their co-operation to improve security and to restore and maintain the rule of law".

Haiti - one of the poorest countries in the world - has been plagued by political and criminal violence.

In announcing the election's fourth postponement, Haiti officials said many of the country's 3.5 million registered voters had not received their electoral identification cards.

But the head of the OAS mission in Haiti, Denneth Modeste, said the cards had been ready in September, but election officials had asked the OAS to hold off distribution because polling stations had not yet been chosen.

The Electoral Council's Secretary-General, Rosemond Pradel, said last week he was sick of watching foreigners sit around spending money without achieving results.


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