World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Congratulations on election to the presidency

21 March 2006

Letter to H.E. René Garcia Préval, President Elect of the Republic of Haiti, 21 March,

Your Excellency,

I write to congratulate you on your election as President of the Republic of
Haiti. I send you all the good wishes for the exercise of your new mandate and I
pray God's blessing on you, your government and the people of Haiti.

The World Council of Churches (WCC) has followed the course of events in
Haiti very closely. In recent years, ecumenical delegations have visited the country
on several occasions, and I myself came to Haiti during my visit to the Caribbean
in August 2005. As an African, I attach great importance to the history of Haiti
as the first black republic, but during my visit, I was profoundly shocked by the
poverty and violence prevailing almost everywhere.

While I was in Haiti, the WCC member churches there, the authorities of the
Roman Catholic Church and church organizations like the Protestant Federation
of Haiti or the National Spiritual Council of Churches in Haiti (CONASPEH)
shared their points of view on the situation in the country with me. I also had the
opportunity to meet the Acting President and with the Secretary General of the
United Nations' Special Representative in Haiti, to whom I was able to convey
the churches' anxieties. After my visit, the Executive Committee of the WCC,
extremely perturbed by the situation in the country, published a communiqué on
Haiti, which I attach to this letter. Last month, a delegation from the Haitian
churches and church organizations took part in the 9th Assembly of the WCC in
Porto Alegre, Brazil, and gave us their comments. So Haiti is still very much at
the centre of our concerns.

Your people and, indeed, the whole world will be watching closely to see how
you, as the new President of Haiti, will deal with the extreme poverty facing the
people of Haiti. I am aware of the scant resources your government has at its disposal,
and I hope and pray that the international community will honour its commitments
and pledges to support your efforts to overcome poverty.

We cannot fail to mention that, for far too long, Haitian society has been dominated
by violence. During my visit, I was very conscious that the people of Haiti
long ardently for peace and for violence to be a thing of the past. We as churches
can only endorse this aspiration and express our willingness to contribute to
any action in this direction. We have every confidence that, under your leadership,
spaces for national dialogue will be opened up, involving all sectors of society
and not least, of course, the churches.

Your Excellency, I am fully aware of the immensity of the task that lies before
you. Please be assured of the prayers of the WCC and the ecumenical movement
for your presidency, and of our willingness to accompany you and your people in
building a country founded on justice, peace and reconciliation, where the fullness
and dignity of life will be the daily experience of each and every one.

With respect and good wishes,

Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia
General Secretary