KINGSTOWN – St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves says Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries are disappointed that promises given by Haiti’s Prime Minister Dr Ariel Henry at the last CARICOM summit held in Trinidad and Tobago in July have not materalised.
In addition, Gonsalves, in a statement to Parliament on Thursday night, two days after CARICOM leaders met virtually to discuss the ongoing socio-economic and political situation in Haiti, has renewed a call for a government of national unity to be established in the French-speaking CARICOM country.
“And it was felt by us that there was need for a greater action from the Haitian government which had agreed to certain decisions taken at the summit in Trinidad and Tobago.
“ CARICOM is disappointed that the Prime Minister of Haiti has not taken action towards broadening the governing coalition and has not taken other agreed actions.
“There is need for CARICOM to play a more proactive role at the political level in discussions [with] Haiti organised by the various interest groups. In this regard, CARICOM has to be very much involved in the drafting of the resolution on Haiti to be tabled at the United Nations Security Council. Our input is critical in that regard.
“On the issue of the lead role to be played by CARICOM, there is need for the Haitian government to confirm in writing that it wishes CARICOM . . . to [find] solutions to the deteriorating political and security situation which has contributed to the collapse of all functioning structures of the government.”
Gonsalves said that the view was held that it is important to acknowledge funding requirements associated with support for Haiti and the resource constraints affecting member states of the Caribbean Community.
“Therefore, it will be important to engage with the US, UK, Canada and France and other international partners to ascertain from them what their commitments to this effort will be. There’s a lot of general talk from members of the international community; don’t know whether there’s Haiti fatigue.”
He said what is “absolutely necessary is for Haiti to establish a government that more broadly represents the majority of the Haitian stakeholders,” adding “I think that is as much as it would be prudent for me to say on that particular matter.
“There may be persons who may be saying, ‘why is it that the Prime Minister has taken the time to deal with this?’ If a problem like this existed in St Lucia or in Trinidad, God forbid, or anywhere else in CARICOM, we might have had a greater sense of immediacy. But the fact remains Haiti is a member of the Caribbean Community. We cannot stand askance,” Gonsalves told legislators.
In his statement, Gonsalves said that the political situation in Haiti “is deeply polarised and volatile” and that the situation is also “fuelled by criticisms of the lack of legitimacy of the government and its inability to address the security and socio-economic problems.
“National and international efforts to find solutions have not been successful due to the unwillingness of the parties involved to compromise. And this is the first thing which has to be addressed. You have to have a political solution. There has to be a government of national unity,” Gonsalves said.
“That is where CARICOM is using our best efforts, so that government can prepare the way perhaps in a year and a half ‘s time to have general elections,” Gonsalves said, adding “you must remember that the Haitian government, which currently exists, has no legitimacy other than that CARICOM and countries in the world recognise that it is the government”.
He told legislators that the 15-member regional integration grouping has been engaged in finding a solution to the Haitian crisis “for some time”, appointing in The Bahamas earlier this year, an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) of three former prime ministers headed by Dr Kenny Anthony of St Lucia and including his counterparts Bruce Golding of Jamaica and Perry Christie of The Bahamas.
He confirmed that the group members are currently in Haiti meeting with various stakeholders. (CMC)