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Dithering on Haiti
published: Friday | May 21, 2004

ONCE AGAIN efforts by some regional governments to convene a meeting to probe the ouster of Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president of Haiti have been stymied. A meeting initially scheduled for today among delegates to the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS), has been postponed because, according to the agency's information officer, they were unable to agree on a mutually convenient date.

In the context of the power play complained of in the past by CARICOM governments when they sought a similar probe at the United Nations and were blocked by the United States and France, it is not far-fetched to believe super-power politics is at work again.

US Congresswoman Maxine Waters, strong ally of Mr. Aristide, claimed in March that the US was using its power and influence to manipulate the OAS into not examining the Aristide ouster. The passage of time and the subsequent dithering lend credence to her charge.

In the meantime, the question remains: what will CARICOM's next move be? If the regional governments recognise and proceed to work with the Latortue regime they would be backtracking on a stated position of principle ­ that democratically-elected governments should be removed from office only by democratic means.

At a CARICOM emergency meeting in March, St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Denzil Douglas told journalists that "As a result of not subscribing to the way by which there was a change in government in Haiti, it is going to be extremely difficult for us to sit in any of the Councils of the Caribbean Community with the interim government that has been put in place in Haiti." Since then Bush administration representatives have been trying to coerce CARICOM governments to change their position.

We note that the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution (1529) in February calling on member states "to support the constitutional succession and political process now under way in Haiti and the promotion of a peaceful and lasting solution to the current crisis". The Security Council also authorised the immediate deployment of a Multinational Interim Force for a period of not more than three months from adoption of the resolution. That three-month period expires at the end of this month. Resolution 1529 also called on the international community to assist in the development of a strategy to promote social and economic development and combat poverty.

CARICOM governments, we believe, are committed to these principles and we urge them, including our own led by P.J. Patterson, to work in as practical a way possible to help our neighbours settle into a stable democracy.

In fact the regional leaders have agreed to leave discussions about recognising the new regime for their Grenada summit in July. They have also agreed to send a peacekeeping force to Haiti when the UN takes over that role from the Americans and the French next month.

That practical step is a welcome move by CARICOM, unlike the dithering over an enquiry, which still seems a remote objective.

THE OPINIONS ON THIS PAGE, EXCEPT FOR THE ABOVE, DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THE VIEWS OF THE GLEANER.

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