JIS News

Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders have called for an immediate investigation into the circumstances, which led to the departure of Haitian President, Jean Bertrand Aristide from office on Sunday (February 29).
“We will be urging, in the hemispheric and international institutions in which we belong, that such an enquiry should be conducted,” Prime Minister of Jamaica and CARICOM Chairman, P. J. Patterson said today.
He suggested that the investigation be conducted under the auspices of an independent organization such as the United Nations (UN).
Mr. Patterson and a number of regional leaders were speaking to journalists at Jamaica House, after an emergency meeting in Kingston on March 2 and 3.
The CARICOM Heads have expressed “dismay and alarm” over the events leading to the hasty departure from office of President Aristide, adding that at no time in communication with CARICOM, had the Haitian President indicated that he would be demitting office before the end of his political term in 2006.
The leaders also raised concern about the on-going political upheaval and violence in Haiti and have called for the immediate return to democratic rule and respect for the Constitution in Haiti.
They also expressed the view that the circumstances under which President Aristide demitted office had set a dangerous precedent for democratically elected government everywhere, as it promoted the unconstitutional removal of duly elected persons from office.
The Heads recalled that the CARICOM Prior Action Plan had been developed recently, with the full involvement of the United States, Canada and the European Union and was fully endorsed by the international community. The plan had as its intention, the preservation of constitutional democracy in Haiti and the need for power sharing.
Commenting on the United States involvement in the departure from office of President Aristide, Mr. Patterson said that, “at no time in discussions did they convey to us that the plan was unacceptable so long as President Aristide was in office”.
He also expressed disappointment at the failure of the UN to take immediate action in response to appeals for assistance by the Government of Haiti and CARICOM Ministers.
Reaffirming the fundamental tenets of governance within the Caribbean Community Charter of Civil Society, as well as the principles enshrined in the Quebec Declaration and the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the Heads of Government stressed that these obligations must be used to determine the democratic nature of governance in Haiti.
In this regard, Prime Minister Patterson said CARICOM would not recognize the rebel forces nor would they be included in any interim government.
The issue of relations within the interim government administration would be discussed at the Inter-Sessional Meeting of CARICOM later this month.In the meantime, the Prime Minister said CARICOM remained committed to the people of Haiti and “it is our intention to remain constructively engaged for the long term to ensure the safety, well being and progress of the people of Haiti”.