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It is Time to End the Political Crisis in Haiti

It is Time to End the Political Crisis in Haiti

Ambassador Peter DeShazo, U.S. Deputy Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States
Remarks to the Permanent Council Special Session on Haiti
Washington, DC
April 29, 2003

Ambassador DeShazo: Mr. Chairman, the United States expresses its thanks to the Chair for convening this important special session of the Permanent Council. Our delegation offers its gratitude to the members of the OAS-CARICOM (Caribbean Common Market) delegation that visited Haiti March 19-20, whose work has done much to advance the deliberations of this Council, and to the OAS Special Mission for the informative report it submitted April 2. We note with particular appreciation the presence with us today of the Honorable Julian Hunte, Minister of External Affairs of St. Lucia, the Honorable Fred Mitchell, Foreign Minister of the Bahamas, and Ambassador Sergio Romero Cuevas, from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico. Their contributions are most welcome.

Mr. Chairman, it is time for Haiti to end the political crisis that has hindered the social and economic development of the Haitian people since the flawed elections of May 2000.

During its March visit to Haiti, the OAS-CARICOM delegation delivered a strong, unequivocal message that Resolution 822 is the only way out of Haiti's political impasse. The delegation detailed clearly to the Government of Haiti concrete steps it should take to fulfill the commitments it undertook in Resolution 822, including arrest of Amiot Metayer, professionalization of the police leadership in full consultation with the OAS Special Mission, and implementation of disarmament measures, among others.

The delegation also made clear to the opposition and civil society their obligation to participate in the formation of an independent, neutral, and credible Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) once the government had taken those steps. It emphasized that the international community would not support efforts to remove President Aristide through violent confrontation or any non-democratic means.

At its April 12 meeting in Miami, the delegation evaluated the reactions to its March visit by both the Government and the opposition and civil society. The delegation was united in its conclusions. It found that the government of Haiti had not taken certain essential steps, and had undertaken others in a way that did not contribute to creation of a climate of security. The points made by the delegation to the government in March remain valid and we call on the government to act on them urgently.

The delegation also concluded that the opposition and civil society had made no commitment to form the CEP once the government took the concrete steps urged by the delegation. These points made by the delegation also remain valid.

Mr. Chairman, the United States, along with all the members of the OAS-CARICOM delegation, remains firmly committed to the democratic process set out under Resolution 822. The continued engagement of the international community is vital - in the form of the OAS Special Mission and ongoing efforts of the International Financial Institutions to reach agreement with the government on normalizing economic relations. Full support for the OAS Special Mission will be critical in assisting the government to meet the terms of reference that have been negotiated for disarmament, electoral security, professional development of the Haitian National Police, and elections.

While the political crisis continues, the people of Haiti continue to suffer through social and economic distress. To help alleviate this suffering, the United States has long provided humanitarian assistance to the people of Haiti and remains committed to providing additional humanitarian resources in the near future.

Mr. Chairman, the United States fully supports the various instruments of the inter-American system designed to uphold democracy in the hemisphere, including the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Positive, concrete actions, or the lack thereof, on the part of the government of Haiti, as well as the opposition and civil society, will help member states determine which of those instruments to apply so as to assist Haitians in resolving their political crisis. We join with other representatives of the OAS/CARICOM delegation to Haiti in reiterating that the democratic process under Resolution 822 must continue. This is the clear path forward for all Haitians.

The United States hopes that when the member states of the OAS take up the topic of "The Situation in Haiti" at the June General Assembly to take appropriate decisions, we will be able to note that considerable progress has been made and that the democratic process is again underway in Haiti through the formation of an independent, neutral and credible CEP.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. [End]

Released on April 30, 2003

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