UNITED NATIONS, April 24 (UPI) -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan calls the second round of balloting in Haiti's parliamentary elections a crucial step to peace and stability.
"Despite a significantly lower voter turnout than in the February presidential elections, the calm atmosphere offered further evidence of the Haitian people's commitment to democracy," Annan's spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said in a statement issued Monday.
"The Secretary-General would like to recognize the excellent collaboration between Haiti and the international community that resulted in an exemplary logistical and technical process," the spokesman said.
"Together with the outcome of the presidential election, Friday's vote represents a crucial step towards placing Haiti firmly on the path to peaceful and stable development. It will be essential for the country's progress that all elements of Haiti's political spectrum and the various branches of Haiti's Government work in a spirit of close cooperation to ensure that this opportunity is fully grasped," the statement concluded.
The United Nations helped organize the poll, together with February's presidential vote, as part of its peacekeeping mission in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.
The U.N. Stabilization Mission in Haiti, known by its French acronym MINUSTAH, was established in 2004 after an insurgency forced elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to go into exile. Former President Rene Preval won February's election to lead the impoverished and strife-torn Caribbean country.