Saturday, February 28, 2004

Gya: Hell no, Aristide musn't go

Prime Minister P.J. Patterson made it explicitly clear yesterday that the Caribbean Community "will not favour any plan" for resolving the current political crisis in Haiti that has as "a pre-condition the resignation of President (Jean Bertrand) Aristide".

To sanction any such arrangement said Patterson, current chairman of the 15-member CARICOM, would be to set a dangerous precedent for constitutional governance and the democratic process and quite "contrary to our (CARICOM) already articulated position".

CARICOM, of which Haiti became a member in 1998 when Rene Preval was President, has been closely working with the USA and Canada, as well as the Organisation of American States, on a peace initiative that includes a military presence in Haiti, in view of the violence and chaos, but with President Aristide remaining as President.

The Jamaican Prime Minister, who spoke with the Sunday Chronicle in a telephone interview from Kingston, was yesterday meeting with top cabinet colleagues, among them his Foreign and National Security Ministers.

He was also continuing yesterday to be in touch with fellow Community heads of government on the implications of an evident shift in the positions of the USA, France and Canada on the Haitian crisis that now favours Aristide's resignation.

A new official CARICOM statement is expected, possibly within the next 48 hours, as Patterson and other Community leaders exchange views on the latest situation in Haiti.

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