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9865: Pres. Aristide's ltr to OAS Nov. 23, 2001 (fwd)
PRESIDENT JEAN-BERTRAND ARISTIDE’S LETTER DATED NOVEMBER 23, 2001 TO OAS SECRETARY GENERAL CESAR GAVIRIA:
I would like to commend the Organization of American States for its commitment and leadership in seeking a resolution to Haiti’s current political impasse.
I speak for all Haitians when I say that we would like to witness a quick resolution to this process and that this result is in the best interest of all Haitians. This would enable Haiti to return its full attention to other pressing matters regarding the health and welfare of its 8 million citizens, the majority of whom live below the poverty line.
We believe strongly that significant progress has been made in the negotiations and we do not wish our collective efforts to be lost over a few remaining and potentially resolvable issues. I am, however, compelled at this juncture to point out several matters that greatly concern me regarding the most recent phase of the talks. The mandate given to the OAS and to the Caribbean Community in my May 31, 2001 letter to the President of the XXXIst OAS General Assembly, as well as the parameters set out in the OAS resolution passed at that General Assembly in Costa Rica have, to my dismay, been greatly enlarged. This enlargement of the mandate has allowed the bar to be raised over and over, adding issues to the negotiating table that were never anticipated, defying the authority of the 43 nations who unanimously resolved to help end the impasse.
My letter was intended to foster an end to this political impasse, outlining a series of compromises and concessions made by the Government of Haiti and Fanmi Lavalas. The concessions made by the Government of Haiti and Fanmi Lavalas throughout this process are numerous:
1. The resignations of the seven contested Senators elected May 21, 2000;
2. The reduction by two years of the terms of all Senators elected on May 21, 2000;
3. The reduction by two years of the terms of the entire Chamber of Deputies;
4. Early elections for the Senators elected May 21, 2000, to be set for November 2002;
5. Early elections for the entire Chamber of Deputies, to be set for November 2002; and
6. A reconstitution of the Provisional Electoral Council, which varies from that outlined in the OAS resolution, agreed to by the Government of Haiti and Fanmi Lavalas.
In turn, I requested that the OAS and CARICOM undertake to help normalize relations between Haiti and international financial institutions for the release of much needed international financial assistance to permit Haiti’s economic and in turn democratic development.
Subsequently, on June 5, 2001, the XXXIst OAS General Assembly passed a resolution that accepted the supposition that the Government of Haiti, in honoring these concessions, would bring about an end to the political impasse.
Significantly, the resolution “resolves,” among other things:
“To urge the Government of Haiti to follow the resignations of seven Senators with the expeditious constitution of a credible, independent and neutral Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), composed of nine members nominated by the Executive, Judiciary, political parties – including the Convergence, Fanmi Lavalas, and other political parties – and churches, both Catholic and Protestant, by June 25, 2001. This is a necessary step to create a climate of confidence conducive to a broad based agreement among the Government of Haiti, political parties and civil society, and other relevant institutions in Haitian society, with a view to resolving the political crisis and strengthening democracy and respect for human rights in Haiti.”
By June 25, 2001, all sectors mentioned in my letter had agreed to this constitution of the CEP – going so far as to provide their nominees – except for one group. It was at your request and urging that I agreed to extend the June 25 deadline to July 1. A series of midnight hour negotiations ensued. Nearly five months after the original deadline, a small minority has impeded this “necessary step” and we are still without an operational CEP.
The June resolution stipulates that the release of international funds would be contingent upon the:
“Secretary General working jointly with member states towards normalizing relations between Haiti and the…international financial institutions, as progress is achieved in reaching a sustainable solution to the crisis.”
At a time when the negotiations have come so far, and Haitians are in such need for economic relief, it would be hard to deny that significant progress has been achieved. Yet, we witness sparse effort by the international community to take concrete steps towards “normalizing relations with the international financial institutions.”
Considering these accomplishments and the humanitarian crisis overshadowing every day life in Haiti, a process for releasing already approved funds should not be delayed further. The human condition of Haiti’s poor is a critical incentive for the international community to act.
As the next phase of this process moves forward, if you deem it truly necessary that I designate a representative for the Government of Haiti to travel to Washington to act as a liaison between the Presidency and the OAS and the Friends of Haiti, please inform me and I will consider this option.
I am eager to work toward a broad based political agreement. I hope that I can count on your continued commitment to mediate a successful, reasonable, well-managed and conclusive end to this process. The Haitian people have suffered enough.