UN hails Haiti election deal

A political agreement over Haiti's legislative elections brokered without foreign intervention is a significant milestone for the country, the head of the UN's Haiti mission said Thursday.

The agreement, reached after mediation from the first Haitian cardinal in the Catholic Church, Chibly Langlois, provides for October 26 polls and allows Haiti out of a long-running political impasse.

"It was a dialogue without any involvement of the international community, and that was very good," said head of the UN Haiti mission Sandra Honore.

The elections will see 20 senators and around 100 members of parliament and local councilors elected.

The municipal elections had been due to be held in 2011, while the senate vote had been set for 2012, but both have been delayed because of political squabbling.

"The general consensus is that this marks a new turning in the political culture in the country," Honore said.

The agreement has not yet been approved by the major opposition parties.

Donations from the international community to hold the elections have reached $34.5 million Honore said, adding that organizing the polls should cost an estimated $45 million.

Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere, has long suffered from political deadlock.