“On 7 February, the people of Haiti turned out in large numbers to vote in the presidential and parliamentary elections,” he said in a statement issued by his spokesman, offering words of praise to “all Haitians who participated in the vote for their commitment to exercising their democratic right to choose their future leaders.”Mr. Annan called the election “a significant step forward for Haiti” and pledged that the international community would “continue to support the people of Haiti as they seek to achieve stability, normalcy and development.”Compared to previous elections, yesterday’s poll was remarkably free from violence, he noted, applauding the Haitian people for their commitment to restore democracy.The UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), along with the Haitian National Police, provided security. It was the first nationwide voting since an insurgency forced elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide into exile two years ago, as Haiti celebrated the 200th anniversary of its independence from France.The Secretary-General urged Haitians to respect the official results that the Provisional Electoral Council would announce in the coming days.As the newly elected Government took up its responsibilities next month, it would be essential for all political and social parties to approach one another in a spirit of national reconciliation and dialogue, with the goal of building strong democratic institutions and an inclusive governance system, he said. Earlier this week, Mr. Annan recommended that MINUSTAH be continued in its present configuration for another six months while a post-electoral mission strategy is worked out for the new phase in the Caribbean country’s transition to a stable democracy.The counting of votes is being completed and the tabulation of results will begin as results flow from the regions into Port-au-Prince, according to MINUSTAH, which said this process will take at least three days, with local voting centres sending their results to the Communal Electoral Offices by road and down from the hills by mule in some cases. From the Communal offices, the ballots will then be transferred to the Departmental Electoral Offices where they will be picked up by UN helicopters and flown to Port-au-Prince and delivered to the tabulation centre, which is guarded by a Chinese Formed Police Unit.