STATEMENT BY PRIME MINISTER OF JAMAICA AND CHAIRMAN OF CARICOM, ON THE HAITIAN CRISIS


President Aristide has submitted his resignation as the President of Haiti and has left the country for an undisclosed destination. We are bound to question whether his resignation was truly voluntary, as it comes after the capture of sections of Haiti by armed insurgents and the failure of the International Community to provide the requisite support, despite the appeals of CARICOM.
The removal of President Aristide in these circumstances sets a dangerous precedent for democratically elected Governments anywhere and everywhere, as it promotes the removal of duly elected persons from office by the power of rebel forces.
At no point in time was the CARICOM Action Plan predicated on the unconstitutional removal of President Aristide from Office. The Action Plan, endorsed by the International Community, was based on the precepts of shared Government, binding both President Aristide and the legitimate Opposition to specific commitments, which would eventually lead to a political solution in accordance with the Constitution of Haiti and result in a peaceful settlement of the crisis and the promotion of the democratic process.
Any suggestions therefore that CARICOM was a party to a plan or was in consultation or had subscribed to the removal of President Aristide from Office, as a prior condition, would be in complete contradiction to the long held CARICOM position that the removal of the constitutionally elected President by unconstitutional means could not be supported by the CARICOM Community.
With the removal of the President from Office, the Constitution of Haiti provides that the Chief Justice, subsequent to his affirmation by a two-thirds majority of Parliament, would now act as President. The non-existence of a Parliament in Haiti would bring into question the constitutionality of the arrangement as reported. It further underlines why the CARICOM Action Plan sought to promote a framework, which would permit the elections to Parliament that would be free and fair, so soon as the requisite conditions were in place.
The situation which currently exists in Haiti and the circumstances which led to it, raise grave issues which the Caribbean Community now needs to address:
CARICOM’s response to the installation of a regime in Haiti brought about by a capitulation to armed groups.
The fact that the political solution as envisaged under the CARICOM Action Plan is no longer possible and the Community’s reaction to any further plan of action by the International Community.
The possible increase in the number of Haitians who might leave and how this situation ought to be handled from here on.
In light of the gravity of the situation and the immediate issues to be dealt with, I have convened an emergency meeting of CARICOM Heads to be held in Jamaica on Tuesday, 2 March 2004.
In the meantime, CARICOM continues to deplore the continued breakdown of law and order in Haiti, the loss of lives and the wanton damage to property. CARICOM has no desire to abandon the people of Haiti and would wish to see the quick restoration of peace and stability in that country, and the earliest return to constitutional democracy.

JIS Social