Washington, DC - Secretary of State John Kerry: "On behalf of President Obama and the American people, I congratulate the citizens of Haiti on the 212th anniversary of their Independence Day.

"When I visited Haiti last October, I noted Haiti’s future depended on the unity of its people and the country’s ability to develop strong and stable democratic institutions. I said then and I believe today that the legitimate transfer of power can only take place through elections.

"As Haitians pause to take stock of more than two centuries as an independent state, they also have an opportunity to more fully realize the democratic governance they so greatly need and deserve. To this end, we urge the country’s leaders to work together to organize free, fair, and transparent elections that will attract broad participation and reflect the will of the Haitian people, and to inaugurate a new president by February 7, as mandated by the national constitution.

"The partnership between the United States and Haiti is of long standing and reflects the close ties between our peoples, our collaboration in business and many other sectors, and our commitment to advance shared values in the region and around the world. The United States looks forward to deepening its friendship with Haiti in years to come."