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OAS-CARICOM High Level Delegation to Haiti

Remarks on Report of Secretary General to Permanent Council Following the Visit of the OAS-CARICOM High Level Delegation to Haiti

On Report of Secretary General to Permanent Council Following the Visit of the OAS-CARICOM High Level Delegation to Haiti

Ambassador Peter DeShazo , U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the OAS Remarks to the OAS Permanent Council Washington, DC April 3, 2003

The United States thanks the Assistant Secretary General for the report of the OAS (Organization of American States) Special Mission for Strengthening Democracy. We will study it in depth and comment further on it at a later date.

The United States also wishes to thank the Assistant Secretary General and our colleagues from CARICOM, (Caribbean Common Market) in particular, for their united efforts in support of advancing democracy in Haiti, CARICOM s newest member state.

The United States fully supports the Inter-American Democratic Charter and Resolution 822, which was inspired by the spirit and letter of the Charter. Resolution 822 constituted a clear, unprecedented formula for solving the political crisis in Haiti.

The high-level OAS/CARICOM delegation made a sincere, good faith effort to break the impasse in Haiti. The message was very clear: Resolution 822 is the way to resolve the political crisis without further delay. The delegation urged the Government of Haiti to take certain concrete steps to fulfill the commitments it undertook in Resolution 822. Such steps are critical to advancing and strengthening the fragile democracy of the hemisphere s second oldest republic. The message also was balanced: The delegation urged civil society and the opposition to participate in formation of a CEP (Provisional Electoral Council) if the Government took those steps to improve the security climate. The visit of this delegation and the plan of action it presented constituted a great opportunity to move forward in establishing an environment of trust and security that is necessary for elections to take place and for Haiti s longstanding political crisis to be resolved.

Having listened to the report of the Assistant Secretary General on the Special Mission, and to reports from our colleagues in Port-au-Prince, the United States is deeply concerned by the lack of serious action by the Government of Haiti in response to several key points which were raised by the OAS/CARICOM high level delegation. We are particularly disturbed by the Government s choice of leadership, interim or otherwise, in the Haitian National Police (HNP). It is clear to everyone in Haiti whether in government, the opposition, civil society, or ordinary citizens that a climate of security must be restored, not just for political activity or elections, but for the economic stability and development so desperately needed by the Haitian people. As the Report of the OAS Special Mission states: the overriding issue was for the Government to take concrete actions designed to demonstrate to Haitians, and the international community, that a climate conducive to the holding of free and fair elections was being created and would be strengthened satisfactorily over the period of the electoral campaign.

Unfortunately, the choice of leadership for the HNP has done exactly the opposite: it has undermined confidence in the Government s commitment to create a climate of security. Moreover, this appointment does not bode well for future collaboration with the international community, which stood ready to provide training and international police advisors.

We deeply regret this lost opportunity, which will have profound implications for Haiti s future.

As we analyze the report by the Special Mission and as we assess the actions of the Government of Haiti, we intend to consult closely and on an urgent basis with other member and observer states and members of the High Level delegation to Haiti. However, it already is clear that the failure to form a neutral, credible and independent CEP by March 30 means that it is highly unlikely that free and fair elections can be held in Haiti in 2003. Moreover, we now must consider, in light of recent inaction by the Government of Haiti, whether the OAS special mission has any viable role to play. At a minimum, we must review the Mission s mandates.

The United States, along with other members of the Permanent Council, wants to help the people of Haiti, who have suffered so much over the years. We remain committed to providing bilateral humanitarian assistance to the Haitian people. Similarly, we remain firmly committed to developing civil society and democracy at the grassroots level in Haiti.

In closing, the United States once again wishes to thank the Assistant Secretary General, and the Foreign Minister of St. Lucia, for their efforts to apply Resolution 822. The United States looks forward to a dialogue with our colleagues on the Permanent Council as we contemplate the next steps in advancing democratic development in and helping the people Haiti. [End]

Released on April 3, 2003

ENDS

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