Sunday, February 29, 2004

T&T: Maybe events over-ran planning

The UN Security Council has approved intervention by T&T in the political crisis in Haiti, but Prime Minister Patrick Manning yesterday declined to give details.

Manning announced on Friday that the T&T Defence Force was on the alert to be deployed to Haiti as part of an international peacekeeping force and that a resolution on this was before the UN Security Council.

Speaking briefly with journalists after delivering a mid-morning address at a PNM Local Government workshop at Cascadia Hotel, St Ann’s, Manning said: “I had a call from the Secretary General Friday evening on this matter and we spoke at length about how we might now proceed.

“Something has been approved but in a different version from what we had anticipated was required.”

He declined to say what this “something” was, citing security reasons, and because “it’s an international issue and I just don’t want to be talking too much about it.”

“I’ve not been asked not to say anything. I think it prudent not to say anything. And there are many security aspects to it,” he added.

He admitted the plan did not rule out sending T&T’s armed troops to Haiti.

“In short, all I am authorised to say is that there are other initiatives that are taking place behind the scenes,” he said.

This latest development comes on the heels of a possible intervention by the US.

The New York Times reported yesterday that the Bush administration had said on Friday it was still pursuing a diplomatic resolution, but the Pentagon was nevertheless drawing up intervention plans.

“We’re interested in achieving a political settlement and we’re still working to that effect,” the paper reported President George W Bush as saying after a meeting with German chancellor Gerhard Schröder on Friday.

“We’re also at the same time planning for a multinational force” to provide stability in the event of a political settlement, the newspaper reported Bush saying.

It reported that the Pentagon was contemplating sending a force of 2,200 marines to take up positions off Haiti.

Manning spearheaded Caricom’s involvement in the Haitian crisis after a Washington meeting in November with the US president.

The UN Security Council had refused last Wednesday to pass a resolution brought by the Foreign Ministers of Jamaica and The Bahamas for a multilateral Caricom peacekeeping force to be deployed to Haiti.

Manning had voiced Caricom’s disappointment at this decision, and promised on Friday that if T&T’s similar move had also been rejected by the UN, he would have gone to the Organisation of American States for approval.

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