United Nations (United States) (AFP) - Haiti has only about half of the $74 million it needs to stage "crucial" national and local elections this year, the prime minister told the United Nations on Thursday.
The destitute Caribbean country, still trying to recover from a devastating earthquake in 2010, has not held an election in nearly four years because of a dispute between the executive branch and the opposition.
Now, in the span of less than six months, the country is scheduled to put nearly all of its elected officials to the test, including for the presidency.
"We have just entered an election cycle that is unprecedented in our history and the stakes are of crucial importance for the future of democracy and development in Haiti," Prime Minister Evans Paul told a UN meeting on the elections.
Haiti and the United Nations have calculated the country needs $74 million to hold the elections.
Haiti itself has set aside $13.8 million in a UN-managed fund, and this plus firm commitments from donor nations total $42 million.
So there is a shortfall of about $30 million, Paul said.
Haiti's 6.5 million registered voters are to cast ballots for president, all of the members of the lower house of parliament, mayors, local officials and two-thirds of the Senate.
The first stage of the election extravaganza will be August 9 with the first round of the legislative elections, followed by a second round in October.
The presidential election is October 25, with a runoff on December 27.
Evans said the voting will pose a major test for Haitian institutions but also for the international community and the United Nations.
The UN maintains a stabilization force of more than 8,000 people in Haiti but has gradually trimmed it as security conditions improve.