UNITED NATIONS, March 20 (Xinhua) -- A UN official said on Wednesday that Haiti is facing serious challenges including the absence of free and fair elections, but outlined a plan for consolidating progress in the Caribbean country.
Nigel Fisher, acting special representative of UN Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon and interim head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), made the remarks at an open debate of the UN Security Council on Haiti.
Fisher said one of the most serious political problems has been the absence of free and fair elections in the country.
Elections were due to take place in January 2012 at the latest, but in spite of an agreement signed in December between the executive and legislative branches to form an electoral commission, there have been no new developments.
"The period under review has been one of impasse in the political domain, epitomized by the lack of progress in creating the electoral commission which would oversee partial legislations and local elections," he said.
At the legislative level, the mandate of one-third of Haiti's senators expired in May 2012 and more terms will end in early 2014, impairing the Senate's functions, Fisher noted.
"Holding credible elections in 2013 is fundamental to reinforce Haiti's democratic institutions, strengthen the rule of law and respond to the urgent needs of Haiti's citizens such as employment and social protection," he said.
The elections are now 16 months overdue and threatening the democratic process, he said.
Fisher outlined a four-pronged consolidation plan to improve the situation in Haiti, which focused on developing the national police force, strengthening the permanent electoral commission once it is created, strengthening the rule of law and supporting government reforms.
The tropical storm Sandy that tore through the small island country late last October destroyed thousands of homes, leaving many people in camps, and further damaging the economy.
"High unemployment rates were compounded by two severe tropical storms and regional droughts that exacerbated the high levels of food insecurity facing many households," he said.
Although the number of people displaced from their homes continues to decline, basic sanitation problems remain and the cholera epidemic continues.
Speaking to the press here after the council meeting, Fisher said there are at least 620,000 cases of cholera, and 8,000 deaths.
"We in the United Nations family are committed, with partners, to redouble efforts to mobilize the significant additional resources needed to fight cholera, to improve sanitation to strengthen the national health care network," he said, adding " Haitians expect no less."