Monday, July 12, 2004

Hti: Latortue to Caricom ... bugger off!

Haiti's interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue has dismissed as "utter nonsense" the conditions outlined by Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders for recognizing the U.S.-backed administration in the former French colony.

Among the conditions, Caricom is calling for: an "inclusive" political process in Haiti; equal commitment of the Haitian authorities in the pursuit of all known criminals; and no persecution or arbitrary treatment of political opponents whatever their persuasion.

Caricom Chairman and Grenada's Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell, in outlining the conditions at the just-ended Caricom summit in Grenada, also said that Caricom wanted assurances that appropriate election machinery is in place "so that elections will be free and fair and transparent" and that the polls, which are due next year, "should take place in an acceptable time-frame and under the supervision of the international community, including Caricom."

The "Caliviginy Statement on Haiti" issued at the end of the summit also made it clear that re-engaging Haiti, whose seat was declared vacant within the fifteen-member Caricom grouping in March, should not be viewed as an acceptance of the undemocratic change of government in Haiti.

But Latortue told reporters on Friday, July 9 that as long as his government is recognized by the United Nations and the Organization of American States, then Caricom should have nothing to say.

However, Latortue said that he is prepared to deal on a bilateral basis with any Caricom country that is willing to work with his government.

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