HAITI-POLITICS-UN envoy upholds critical role of elections amid rising gang violence.

The United Nations Special Representative in Haiti, Maria Isabel Salvador, Monday told the Security Council that the security situation continues to deteriorate in Haiti as gang violence grows, and elections are crucial for the sustainable rule of law.

'Elections are the only path and the only imperative to restore democratic institutions in Haiti. Only democracy and the rule of law can form the basis from which Haiti can progress towards development and growth,' she said.

Fires burn on streets in the Cite Soleil area of Port-au-Prince. (UN Photo)

The envoy, who also heads the UN Office in Haiti, BINUH, underlined the 'enormous significance' of the Council's recent resolution authorizing the deployment of a multinational support mission to assist the national police, and welcomed another on an arms embargo.

The rampant gang violence, mainly affecting the capital, Port-au-Prince, is another shock to Haiti, where nearly half the population needs humanitarian aid. In recent years, the French-speaking Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country has been hit by a cholera epidemic, earthquakes and cyclones, as well as the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in July 2021.

Salvador told the Security Council that major crimes are rising sharply and reaching new record highs. She said incidents include the broad daylight kidnapping last week of the head of the High Transitional Council, the body tasked with preparing the long-overdue elections, by gang members dressed as police officers.

'Killings, sexual violence, including collective rape and mutilation, continue to be used by gangs every day and in the context of ineffective service support for victims, or a robust justice response,' she said.

Activities by vigilante groups have added further complexity to the security crisis. BINUH has registered the lynching of nearly 400 alleged gang members by the so-called 'Bwa Kale' movement between late April and the end of September.

Salvador has meanwhile continued engagement towards 'a path to elections to fully re-establish democratic institutions and the rule of law.'

Although inter-Haitian consultations have resumed under the auspices of regional bloc CARICOM, she was concerned that 'efforts towards elections are not moving at a desired pace.'

She said that re-establishing control by the Haitian National Police (HNP) is a prerequisite for holding a credible and inclusive vote, and the deployment of the multinational force brings hope that that things...

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