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CARICOM POSITION ON RECENT DEVELOPMENTS IN HAITI – Intervention by Hon. Minister M. Assam of Trinidad and Tobago on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), at the XXXI General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS), 5 June 200, San Jose, Costa Rica

1. The Caribbean Community has been engaged with Haiti for a long time, as that country is part of the Caribbean sub-region. Haiti has also applied for full membership of the Caribbean Community and Common Market.

2. CARICOM Heads of Government have agreed to the establishment of a CARICOM Office in Haiti to support Haiti´s membership of the Community and I am pleased to inform that that staff will leave Georgetown this week-end to commence operations of that office, which will be housed in the Embassy of The Bahamas in Haiti.

3. In preparation for the 21 May 2000 Haiti legislative and local elections, CARICOM`s efforts towards Haiti increased and several missions were mounted to Haiti.

4. CARICOM`s engagement with Haiti has been based on solidarity with the Haitian People at large. It is the Haitian People who have suffered from the deteriorating social and economic situation in that country, mostly as a result of the various political crises which our sister country has undergone. CARICOM has been opposed to any form of sanction against, or political isolation of, Haiti since its move towards democracy in 1990.

5. The Haitian People have shown their determination to support democracy. This was expressed in their large turnout at the elections called within the democratic framework since then, and in particular the 21 May 2000 elections.

6. At the same time however, a number of electoral deficiencies were observed in the May 21, 2000 electoral process. In supporting the strengthening and development of democracy and democratic institutions, we the stronger democratic states, will need to assist Haitian authorities in finding solutions to these problems.

7. That is the mandate given by CARICOM Heads of Government in their Inter-Sessional meeting in February 2001 in Barbados.

8. We have to acknowledge that we will not be able to solve all problems and crises in Haiti. A comprehensive resolution will require a process of managing the crises and in this regard CARICOM has favoured a step by step approach.

9. The recent combining of the efforts of the Caribbean Community and the Organisation of American States was effective. Dame Eugenia Charles represented CARICOM in the recent Joint OAS/CARICOM Mission, co-led by Secretary General Gaviria.

10. The President of Haiti, His Excellency Jean Bertrand Aristide, has written to this General Assembly outlining his commitments to advance the resolution of the political crisis in his country.

11. CARICOM has indicated already that this communication is important and contains valuable elements for a definitive resolution of the 21 May 2000 electoral deficiencies and its aftermath. We expect that the commitments made by President Aristide will be honoured because they need to be carried out. It is recognised that a certain level of scepticism may arise as there has not been a very encouraging track record in the past. I am pleased however that there is ample proof that the seven Senators have resigned. We have this information not only from President Aristide himself but also from the Associated Press. We believe that without continued action on the commitments made by the President of Haiti, it will be difficult to continue to support the Haitian People with the same intensity and commitment.

12. So we have reached a critical moment in our efforts to assist Haiti in its democratic process. June 25, 2001, the date by which a new Conseil Electoral Provisoire CEP) is expected to be established, will be the next bench-mark. We are confident that that date too will be met. It will be necessary for Haiti to receive the international assistance that it so urgently needs to support the strengthening of the electoral process in order that the President can make good on his commitments.

13. It is in this context therefore, that we as CARICOM participated actively in the working group that has drafted a resolution on the way forward. We strongly support and call for the adoption of the draft resolution.

14. Finally, I would like to call upon all parties involved in the political crisis in Haiti, especially the two main political parties Fanmi Lavalas and Convergence Democratique to demonstrate their commitment to the Haitian People and find ways of having a meaningful dialogue aimed at resolving the current political impasse.

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