Caribbean

Powell urges world to aid Haiti’s government

Harry Dunphy
Associated Press (AP)
July 20, 2004

Washington: Secretary of State Colin Powell urged the international community on Tuesday to rally behind Haiti’s new government and help its impoverished people build a stable democratic government with a sound economy.

Opening a donors’ conference at the World Bank for the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation, Powell said the task of the participants is “to help the people of Haiti build a future of hope.”

He said Haiti’s new interim government led by Prime Minister Gerard Latortue is determined to take advantage of the new opportunities before it to fashion a better future for those people.

Noting that millions in international funds have been spent in the past on Haiti, Powell said, “Our task here today is, examine what we can do over the longer term to help Haiti build a secure foundation for democracy and development.”

He said an international assessment team determined that Haiti needed $1.36 billion through 2006.

Powell said after taking into account the current resources of the government and pledges already made, the World Bank has determined there is a significant shortfall of $924 million.

He said the United States has tripled aid to Haiti in the current fiscal year to $120 million, including $19 million to help those with HIV/AIDS. He said American aid in 2005 is expected to reach $52 million, bringing the total for two years to $230 million.

Powell said the U.S. aid would be used to help Haiti prepare for free and fair elections, meet the health needs of its most vulnerable citizens, support a jobs program and repair neglected infrastructure.

“Together we must ensure that our assistance flows rapidly and expeditiously so that the Haitian people soon see concrete improvements in their daily lives such as new jobs, better roads, cleaner and safer streets and water that is fit to drink,” he said.

Other speakers at the opening session were Juan Gabriel Valdes, the U.N. special representative for Haiti, European Union representative Joe Borg, World Bank President James Wolfensohn, Enrique Iglesias, the head of the Inter-American Development Bank and Latortue.

Latortue said Monday his government has established specific programs for international aid it expects to receive for reconstruction projects.

“I believe the money given in aid will not be money given to the country to do whatever (it wants) but is money to implement a specific program that has already been established, and therefore there is no danger the system will derail,” Latortue said in an interview with Associated Press Television News.

He said his government is fighting strongly against corruption, and “no one would dare use that money for other objectives.”

Conference organizers say they want to avoid the mistakes of the past. In 1995, after a donors’ conference raised $900 million for Haiti, the World Bank and other organizations shut down their programs because the government did not make out demanded economic changes.

This time there will be an oversight and monitoring committee to make sure the program stays on track and hold both the donors and the government accountable.

Latortue heads an interim government that replaced Aristide,who resigned in February, fled the country aboard a U.S.-sponsored plane and complained the Bush administration forced him out. The government has pledged to hold elections in 2005.

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