BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Feb 19, CMC – Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders have agreed to send a fact finding mission to Haiti in a bid to finding a solution to the ongoing social and political unrest in the French-speaking CARICOM member country where opposition parties are demanding the removal of President Jovenel Moise.
The mission will be led by CARICOM Secretary General Ambassador Irwin LaRocque and will include representatives from the Bahamas, Jamaica and Barbados.
Moise was among several Caribbean leaders who did not attend the two-day Inter-sessional summit that ended here on Wednesday.
The opposition parties have accused Moise, who came to power in 2017, of corruption and have been staging street demonstrations in support of their demands for him to step down. Moise has denied the allegations and has been spearheading efforts for the establishment of a government of national unity.
At their last summit in St. Lucia, CARICOM had agreed on a prime ministerial delegation to visit the French-speaking country but that never materialised and Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said that it was important for the region to send a fact finding mission to Haiti.
“It is felt that if we do not help address the domestic issue confronting Haiti we will continue to have tremendous negative impacts on countries like the Turks and Caicos and the Bahamas who are seeing a large number of migrants coming into these countries and creating some domestic challenges for them.
“So we need to work with the various stakeholders in Haiti to find some kind of lasting solution to the current impasse,” Skerrit said.
He also warned that CARICOM cannot afford to neglect is duty to Port au Prince amid the ongoing turmoil.
“We must not appear on any way to have, what has become in many parts of the world, Haiti fatigue. We recognise that Haiti is part of the community and we have a responsibility and a duty and obligation to assist a member state in unravelling its challenges and to work with (it) towards lasting solutions,” he said.
However Skerrit acknowledged that finding a solution to the current impasse will not solve the country’s problems and there is need for engagement with Haiti and the international community on the social and economic challenges.
Meanwhile CARICOM Chairman, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, said she recognised that the situation in Haiti is a complex one, but it can be addressed.
“The first step is for us to have the legitimacy and the integrity of facts that we can rely upon, and that therein after we then work with the relevant players to see how best we can work with Haiti to ensure that they don’t face instability within their boundaries, and as a result there are no negative consequences to the people of the Bahamas or to the people of the Turks and Caicos.
“Difficult conversations are not often welcome but they are at the end of the day what are necessary in order to be able to gain progress and move forward. And I am satisfied the Haitian Foreign minister came this morning, we were able to engage with him as a whole, I was also able to speak at a personal level to President Moise; the heads are engaged,” Mottley told the media.
She added that regional leaders are due to meet in three weeks for the CARICOM Mexico summit, by which time they expect to have the results of the fact finding mission.