The failure of leadership in Haiti has needlessly undermined its reconstruction effort, bringing further suffering and hardship to its beleaguered people.
Haiti should move quickly to resolve its political paralysis, and eliminate the government's hand-picked candidate from the presidential runoff ballot.
This is what a panel of electoral monitors from the Organization of American States is expected to recommend. And René Préval, the outgoing President who requested the review of the country's disputed elections, and the country's electoral commission should accept the panel's advice without additional equivocation. Restoring legitimacy to the democratic process is crucial so that the country can face the momentous challenges ahead.
The OAS panel spent 10 days scrutinizing tally sheets and voting documents, after widespread complaints that the Nov. 28 vote was tainted by fraud and disenfranchisement.
The OAS report, which hasn't been officially released, reportedly concludes that there were enough fraudulent ballots to place Jude Célestin, a technocrat from the governing party, in third place instead of second, and Michel Martelly, a popular singer, in second instead of third. Mirlande Manigat, a former first lady, remains in first place. If the government accepts these results, a runoff between the top two contenders could be held next month.
Haiti desperately needs a strong central government. On the first anniversary of last year's calamitous earthquake, only 5 per cent of the debris has been removed. One million people - one-seventh of the population - remain homeless. Young women are being raped in the squalid tent cities where they are forced to make their homes. A cholera outbreak in the countryside has killed more than 3,700.
The power vacuum has also resulted in a delay in the disbursement of the $2.1-billion pledged by international donors. Delivering aid and services in the Caribbean nation has been difficult. There are more than 10,000 humanitarian organizations, and they often fail to co-operate. Some bypass the government altogether, prompting the derisive nickname "the republic of non-governmental organizations."
One-fifth of Haiti's civil servants were killed in the earthquake, so there is an understandable vacuum of technocratic expertise and leadership. And the property-rights system is complex, making it difficult to launch reconstruction projects.
But it is time for a new government to take charge, and to oversee the rebuilding of a shattered country.