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A SPECIAL SECTION: Haiti, Since the January 12, 2010 Fierce Earthquake

Posted Friday, January 28, 2011  

U.S. Secretary of State Clinton to visit Haiti on Sunday

WASHINGTON US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Haiti Sunday to consult with Haitian President Rene Preval and others about the disputed election, a cholera epidemic and post-quake reconstruction.

It will be Clinton's first visit to Haiti since she traveled there on January 16 last year, days after a 7.0 magnitude quake killed more than 220,000 people, left 1.3 million homeless, and the capital Port-au-Prince in ruins.

She will "consult with members of civil society, political actors, Haiti's president and international partners on the ongoing electoral situation as well as reconstruction efforts," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said.

"The United States and Haiti share the mutual commitment to building Haiti anew after the devastating earthquake one year ago, and to ensure a strong future for Haiti?s people and its democracy," Crowley said in a statement.

He also said the chief US diplomat will visit a cholera clinic, meet Edmond Mulet, the special representative of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, and consult with candidates in the disputed election.

In the latest electoral twist, Preval's hand-picked candidate Jude Celestin has refused to confirm that he was withdrawing from Haiti's electoral race after the ruling party pulled its support for him.

According to preliminary results from the November 28 first round poll, Celestin garnered 7,000 more votes than popular singer Michel Martelly, securing a place in a run-off against former first lady Mirlande Manigat.

Within hours of the announcement, protests swept Haitian towns, leaving five dead and the country in crisis as opposition candidates accused Preval and the electoral commission of rigging the poll.

A team of international monitors called in by Preval found widespread vote tampering and fraud in Celestin's favor, and recommended he should withdraw from the race and leave the field clear for a Martelly-Manigat battle.

The second round, originally scheduled for January 16, has been indefinitely postponed, even though Preval is due to step down in early February and hand over leadership of the poorest country in the Americas.

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