The CARICOM Eminent Persons Group (EPG) visited Haiti on 12-15 July 2023, as agreed at the end of the meeting of Haitian stakeholders in Jamaica on 11-13 June 2023, to continue its facilitation of inter-Haitian dialogue by building on the outcome of the Jamaica meeting. Emphasis was placed on the major proposals tabled in Jamaica. These included the commitments made by Prime Minister Henry to enlarge the High Transition Council and to form a government of national unity in response to the call for greater inclusiveness. Concerned by the extensive powers enjoyed by the Prime Minister, the major political and civil society opposition parties had proposed a governance framework closer to the intent and spirit of the constitution by proposing the formation of a presidential college along with a Prime Minister. They had also underlined the importance of confidence-building measures. To better supplement their position, they had coalesced and signed at the end of the meeting in Jamaica the Joint Declaration of Kingston.
During this visit, in addition to engagements with the Prime Minister and key political and civil society stakeholders, the EPG met with representatives of the business community and a group of persons with expertise in security, human rights and marginalised social groups whose insights were helpful.
Aware that the mediation effort would take time, the EPG placed emphasis on discussing process in order to put in place a mechanism that would facilite progress taking into account the inherent difficulties of negotiations involving a large number of protagonists. The objective was attained to some extent. The principle of reducing the negotiating group of government, opposition and civil society representatives to manageable size was more or less accepted, awaiting the outcome of internal consultations by one of the three groups on a revised Draft Process Protocol. Progress was also made in reducing the items for negotiation. Other positives related to broad agreement on the issue of enlarging the High Transition Council and greater cohesion on security, the issue being not the need for security assistance but what form it should take.
The EPG recommended that talks between the various groups which had taken place since the Jamaica meeting should continue in order to help narrow the differences between the protagonists. It also advocated the importance of trust-building by the government. The EPG informed it would return to Haiti in the coming weeks to renew its facilitation efforts.