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a398: Govt of Haiti Pledges Continued Cooperation with OAS (fwd)
GOVERNMENT OF HAITI PLEDGES CONTINUED COOPERATION WITH ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
Government welcomes OAS delegation, stresses need for immediate resolution of political impasse
Washington, D.C. (Jan. 16, 2002) – The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) yesterday passed a resolution affirming its support for an end to the political impasse in Haiti. The Government of Haiti, represented by Ambassador Raymond Valcin, worked constructively with members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and other member states to design a resolution that would effectively lend support to the mediated efforts to resolve the impasse.
During a special meeting of the Permanent Council, the 34 member states agreed to continue the OAS-assisted mediation in Haiti and to resume negotiations as soon as practical between the Government of Haiti and a minority coalition in the opposition known as the Democratic Convergence. As a result of yesterday’s resolution, the OAS agreed to a position advanced by CARICOM to send a three-person delegation to Haiti in late January to assess the political and humanitarian situation first hand. The delegation, led by the Honorable Kenny Anthony, Prime Minister of St. Lucia, will report back to the Permanent Council upon the mission’s completion.
“We welcome the outcome of yesterday’s meeting and pledge our continued cooperation with the OAS to find a resolution to the crisis in Haiti,” said Ambassador Valcin. “We look forward to the CARICOM delegation’s visit Jan. 28, and will ensure they are given full access to all the appropriate institutions and individuals they need to make an unfettered and accurate assessment of the political and economic situation in Haiti.”
Asked for the current mood within CARICOM toward Haiti, St. Lucia's Ambassador to Washington, Her Excellency Sonia Johnny said, “Haiti is a member of CARICOM, and the governments and people of CARICOM feel a special affinity toward the people of Haiti. Haitians have worked long and hard to establish a viable democracy. CARICOM must -- and will -- work with them as they continue building and strengthening their young, but precious democracy.”
The current political impasse in Haiti stems from objections raised by the OAS Election Monitoring Mission’s report that disputed counting methods were used in a handful of seats in the May 2000 parliamentary elections. Most recently, the environment for reaching an accord has been stalled by an attempted coup d’etat against the democratically elected government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on December 17, 2001. Thousands of peaceful protesters took to the streets in the hours following the attempted putsch to express their opposition to those who seek to violently overthrow democracy in their nation. Unfortunately, a few protesters resorted to violent acts. In response, the Government has taken the necessary steps to investigate the violent events of Dec. 17 and the events of July 28, when similar incidents took place. The Government continues to denounce such acts and will continue to manage and report on the situation as new information becomes availabl!
The Government of Haiti has also made significant concessions to resolve the political impasse: particularly securing the resignation of the seven disputed Senate seats from the May 2000 election, as well as agreeing to a consensual, independent and neutral Provisional Electoral Council (CEP). As the OAS outlined in its June 5, 2001 resolution, Support for Democracy in Haiti, the CEP will oversee all future national and local elections and will be the first step in “creating a climate of confidence” among Haitians.
“We are fully committed to cooperating with the OAS and the CARICOM delegation, and we firmly believe the current political impasse can be resolved within the framework of the June 5 resolution and the additional steps agreed to by the Permanent Council today,” said Haiti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joseph Phillipe Antonio. “A quick resolution to the political crisis will allow us to refocus our efforts on the humanitarian crisis that continues to plague our country and our people.”
Currently, there are international loans totaling $146 million being withheld by the United States from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), that are designated for projects in health care, potable water and sanitation, basic education and rural road rehabilitation in Haiti. With more than five percent of the population stricken with HIV/AIDS and with a physician-to-patient ration of only 1.2 doctors for every 10,000 Haitians, release of the IDB loans is vital to managing the humanitarian crisis that has recently escalated in Haiti.
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