CARICOM under my Chairmanship has been deeply involved in the search for a solution to the political crisis in Haiti.
Following the departure of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide a new President has taken the Oath of Office.
A Council of Wise Persons has been chosen which has in turn recommended the appointment of a new Prime Minister, Gerard LaTortue. He is well known to the regional and international community and highly respected. He has already been in direct contact with me and proposes to visit Jamaica for discussions prior to the meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government in St. Kitts and Nevis later this month.
Statement re the hosting of former Haitian President
Mr. Aristide has expressed a wish to return temporarily to the Caribbean with his wife and to be reunited with their two young children who are currently in the United States.
At his request, arrangements are being made for his travel and accommodation in Jamaica. He is expected to arrive here early next week.
We have communicated our decision to our CARICOM colleagues and to the Governments who were originally involved in working together to seek a solution to the Haitian crisis.
I want to emphasise that Mr. Aristide is not seeking political asylum in Jamaica. His stay in Jamaica is not expected to be in excess of eight to ten weeks. He is engaged in finalising arrangements for permanent residence outside of the Region.
CARICOM remains committed to the goal of restoring and nurturing democracy in its newest Member State as well as to social and economic development of the people of Haiti.
Office of the Prime Minister
March 11, 2004