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HAITIAN STORY SOUNDS FISHY TO CARIBBEAN LEADERS
Caribbean nations just aren’t buying into the Bush story about Haiti. Instead, the fifteen member Caribbean Community (Caricom) have called on the United Nations to investigate Sunday’s ouster of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The leaders are hoping if such an investigation does take place, the former president will be allowed to testify if he wants to.
HAITIAN STORY SOUNDS FISHY TO CARIBBEAN LEADERS
Caribbean nations just aren’t buying into the Bush story about Haiti.
Instead, the fifteen member Caribbean Community (Caricom) have called on the United Nations to investigate Sunday’s ouster of Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The leaders are hoping if such an investigation does take place, the former president will be allowed to testify if he wants to.
"Heads of government were deeply perturbed at the contradictory reports surrounding the demission from office of the constitutionally-elected president," the regional leaders said in a communiqué. "These concerns were heightened by public assertions by President Aristide that he had not demitted office voluntarily.” Caricom leaders own investigations found that when the plane carrying the deposed President landed in Antigua no one was allowed to leave the aircraft and declaration forms handed to customs officials said there were no passengers on board. "Those on board were not regarded as passengers but cargo, I leave that for you to determine", Caricom chairman Jamaica Prime Minister PJ Patterson said.
Further, the Caribbean leaders made clear that their countries would not participate in the US-led Interim Multinational Task Force. They agreed, however, that Caricom would be part of a "follow-on" stabilization force which would provide humanitarian assistance and help to rebuild the Haitian economy, civil society and democratic structures.
The leaders, at the end of the summit yesterday, decided to defer consideration of Haiti's future in the 15-member regional grouping until they meet again later this month and they have had time to assess the interim administration that emerges in Port-au-Prince. Their statement read, “No action should be taken to legitimize the rebel forces nor should they be included in any interim government.” In fact, Jamaica's Prime Minister P J Patterson said yesterday that Haiti's continued participation in Caricom would depend on what transpires there in the next few days. "(Caricom) was not prepared to deliberate with thugs, anarchists and persons with reputations contrary to the tenets of civil society," he declared.
Caricom, a trade and economic group, felt betrayed by the United States, France and Canada, which backed away from their initial support of its proposal that would have involved Aristide sharing power with the Opposition. Instead, the three joined the Opposition calls for Aristide to resign and leave the country.
Regional leaders were further angered that these countries refused to support a UN-peacekeeping force for Haiti after the rebels took over several towns and cities, but yet pushed through the authorizing resolution at the Security Council only hours after Aristide's departure. The communiqué stated, “The Heads of Government recalled that the CARICOM Prior Action Plan had been developed with the full involvement of the United States, Canada, the OAS and the European Union and fully endorsed by the international community. This initiative was guided by the need to preserve the rule of law and predicated on the precepts of shared government, binding both President Aristide and the legitimate opposition to specific commitments, which would lead to a peaceful resolution of the political impasse respectful of the constitution, and promoting the democratic process.”
It went on, “Heads of Government were disappointed by the reluctance of the Security Council to take immediate action in response to appeals for assistance by the Government of Haiti.”
The statement read further, “On Sunday 29 February 2004, the Security Council adopted Resolution 1529 endorsing the deployment of a Multinational Interim Force to Haiti. This was what CARICOM had sought in the first place, but the decision was taken in circumstances quite different to those conceived in the CARICOM Plan since it followed immediately the departure from office of President Aristide.”
Caricom leaders also condemned the continual lack of funding for Haiti, saying it is vital for economic stability. "We believe what is a virtual embargo has helped to undermine the process of building democracy in Haiti," Patterson said.
Caricom’s call for a UN investigation was joined later by South Africa. "The suggestion that President Aristide may have been forced out of office, if true, will have serious consequences and ramifications for the respect of the rule of law and democracy the world over," said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, South African foreign minister. Sources: CARICOM, Trinidad Express, Jamaica Observer, CBC
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