- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 13, 2011

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti | A regional group of international monitors Thursday gave Haiti’s government long-awaited recommendations on how to resolve its disputed presidential election, one day after the first anniversary of a massive earthquake devastated this beleaguered island nation.

The Organization of American States (OAS) submitted the recommendations, which have not been made public, to President Rene Preval and Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, according to an Agence France-Presse report.

A leaked draft of the OAS report calls for Mr. Preval handpicked successor, Jude Celestin, to withdraw from the election because of fraud during the first round of voting, AFP reported.

The report comes during a time of crisis in Haiti. Tons of rubble and debris still litter the landscape - the aftermath of the 7.1 earthquake that killed as many as 230,000 people. Hundreds of thousands of Haitians have taken refuge in temporary tent camps outside the city. The country has battled an outbreak of cholera that has killed some 2,000 people and sickened nearly 100,000 more.

Haitian authorities recently postponed an election runoff because the results of the first round have not been validated. Relief workers say progress will be slow without newly elected political leaders in place.

“One year after the earthquake, the situation in Haiti remains extremely grave and extremely serious. Overall reconstruction of the country has been much slower than anyone would have liked,” said relief worker Aaron Tate, the Haiti earthquake response coordinator for Church World Service. “Haitians are frustrated, and I’m frustrated.”

In a country with so many problems, “it’s easy to blame the government, the international humanitarian organizations and even the Haitian people for the problems of the last year,” Mr. Tate said.

Organizations like Mission of Hope Haiti (MOH) understand how the nation operates better than others. MOH has been working in the impoverished country since 1998.

“In Haiti’s darkest hour, God had prepared Mission of Hope to be there to bring the Gospel in its brightest moment,” said Brad Johnson, president of Mission of Hope Haiti. “We are very thankful to have been there to serve over 15 million meals throughout the country.”

More than 1 million people still live without homes, electricity and security. Recently, however, the government donated several acres to MOH for a housing development.

“You hear so many negative reports about what is not being done. You very seldom hear what is being done,” Mr. Johnson said.

“There are homes being built throughout the nation and there are families moving in, but there just aren’t enough. A lot of that comes down to needing the ongoing help of those in North America to see that their brothers and sisters in Haiti can move forward.”

On Wednesday, thousands of Haitians gathered in Port-au-Prince to remember the earthquake victims.

Such notables as Christian pastors/authors James McDonald and Mark Driscoll challenged Haiti to look to God, not government, for a better future.

Haitians also gathered at one of the largest known mass graves in the world to honor their dead.

The site is located in the outskirts of Port-au-Prince in Titanyen, where the bodies of an estimated 100,000 people who died were dumped along with rubble and debris from the earthquake.

Joseph Duveone, hobbling on crutches in the hot sun, was at the mass grave to commemorate the day. He lost his right leg a year ago during the quake.

“It is a really sad day with all these bodies buried here,” said Mr. Duveone. “We can’t ever forget what happened.”

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