Tuesday, March 23, 2004

T&T: Caricom touchy touchy

Some Caribbean Community Prime Ministers have reacted sharply against the possibility of a meeting with Haiti's interim Prime Minister, Gerard Latortue, when they hold their 15th Inter-Sessional Meeting later this week in St Kitts.

The Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves; St Lucia's Kenny Anthony; and Antigua and Barbuda's Lester Bird said yesterday they could not envisage any such meeting with Latortue in the absence of a repudiation of his public attack on Caricom.

Latortue, who unilaterally declared a suspension of Haiti's membership in Caricom on March 15 and declared as "an unfriendly act" Jamaica's hosting of ousted President Jean-Betrand Aristide, is now seeking to attend the March 25-26 Inter-Sessional Meeting of Community leaders in St Kitts.

Prime Minister Gonsalves, who met with the ousted Haitian leader over the weekend in Jamaica where he is on a ten-week stay, told the Express yesterday:

"Mr Latortue has shown tremendous insensitivity in first announcing the freezing of Haiti's membership in Caricom, then to travel to Gonaives on Saturday to hail known murderers and political thugs as 'liberators', and now wanting to meet with Community Heads of Government to discuss the Haitian situation. I am totally opposed to any such meeting with him at this time".
For his part, Prime Minister Bird, who is scheduled to assume the chairmanship of Caricom at the Inter-Sessional Meeting which begins on Thursday, said "once my party is re-elected to office at (today's) election, and I have no intention of presiding at the Caricom meeting with Latortue in attendance until we settle, on a matter of principle, the issue of recognition of a government in Haiti in view of how President Aristide was ousted from office...."
Latortue brought it on himself. Yeah, boys, focus on principle to the exclusion of what is good for Haiti and its people.


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