Pompeo pushes Haiti president on elections, rights

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo looks on after signing an agreement on the fifth-generation of internet technology in Bled, Slovenia, during his four-nation visit to Central Europe, August 13, 2020. Jure Makovec/Pool via REUTERS

(Reuters) - It is “critical” that Haiti hold a delayed vote and strengthen the rule of law and human rights, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told President Jovenel Moise on Sunday at a meeting after more than six months of rule by decree in the Caribbean nation.

Haiti has been without a parliament since January after missing a deadline to hold legislative elections. Moise has yet to set a date for new elections.

“It is critical that Haiti schedule its overdue legislative elections, form an inclusive (electoral council), and strengthen rule of law and support for human rights. These are key elements of the democratic process,” Pompeo said in a tweet after the meeting.

Moise also said the conversation had focused on the organization of the election.

“Like me, our American partners believe that elections remains the ideal way for democracy to survive,” Moise tweeted.

The two men met at the inauguration of Dominican Republic President Luis Abinader.

On Friday, Acting Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Michael Kozak told reporters that although Washington recognized that there were difficulties in organizing elections in Haiti, the president should move ahead with laying groundwork.

“We’re trying to build a little bit of a fire there,” Kozak said. “If you’re going to have a democracy, that means all three branches of the democracy need to be in place. It can’t just be one or two.”

Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Writing by Frank Jack Daniel. Editing by Gerry Doyle