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Cablegate: Annan Avoids Parliamentary Boycott

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RR RUEHQU
DE RUEHPU #1425 2161932
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 041932Z AUG 06
FM AMEMBASSY PORT AU PRINCE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 3713
INFO RUEHZH/HAITI COLLECTIVE
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 1168
RUEHSA/AMEMBASSY PRETORIA 1010
RUEHQU/AMCONSUL QUEBEC 0545
RUMIAAA/HQ USSOUTHCOM J2 MIAMI FL
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0967

UNCLAS PORT AU PRINCE 001425

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CAR
S/CRS
SOUTHCOM ALSO FOR POLAD
STATE PASS AID FOR LAC/CAR
INR/IAA (BEN-YEHUDA)
WHA/EX PLEASE PASS USOAS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL HA
SUBJECT: ANNAN AVOIDS PARLIAMENTARY BOYCOTT

1. This message is sensitive but unclassified - protect
accordingly.

2. (U) Summary. United Nations Secretary General (UNSYG)
Kofi Annan canceled his scheduled visit to parliament on
August 3, avoiding a boycott by what could have been a
substantial number of parliamentarians. In the chamber of
deputies, Petionville representative Steven Benoit led a
group of roughly 12 deputies (out of a total of 88) in citing
MINUSTAH's inaction against gangs as a reason for their
intended boycott. In the upper chamber, Senate Vice
President Edmonde Supplice Beauzile's anger over her
detention by Argentinian troops during the recent
parliamentry election in the Grand Saline district on July 30
galvanized other senators such as Youri Latortue to protest
MINUSTAH's lack of respect for Haitian sovereignty.
Subsequent to Annan's cancellation, the Senate unanimously
resolved to boycott any other part of his program. While the
Senate protest appeared parochial, Benoit's protest reflects
unhappiness with MINUSTAH since the resurrgence of kidnapping
and related crime in July. Preval's explicit statement
during the Annan visit that he prefered to "dialogue" with
gangs rather than confront them appears to have deflected,
for the moment, at least some of that criticism from MINUSTAH
back to the Preval. Post reports on the Annan visit Septel.
End Summary.

3. (U) After criticizing MINUSTAH performance and Annan's
visit earlier in the week, on August 3 Benoit stated "I will
leave the meeting (subsequently canceled) so that I will not
have to hear Kofi Annan make vain promises while we are in a
state of war. We cannot go to the airport without risk of
being shot at. The United Nations in 50 years has never
resolved any problem and has failed throughout the world.
These men (the blue helmets) should leave," Benoit declared
to journalists gathered outside of the Parliament. Benoit
also advocated the restoration of the Haitian Armed Forces
(FAd'H), dissolved by former President Aristide in 1994.
Approximately 12 other deputies also announced their
intention to boycott Annan's speech in order to show their
disapproval of what they term, MINUSTAH's "laissez-faire
strategy.8

4. (U) Senate President Joseph Lambert, on the other hand, on
August 3 affirmed that he was ready to welcome the Secretary
General before the National Assembly and joined the
delegation that greeted Annan at the airport upon his
arrival. Lambert was restricted by a Senate resolution from
participating in other activities with the UNSYG. The Senate
resolution, barring Senators from participation in the Annan
visit, was prompted by an incident in Grand Saline during the
July 30 parliamentary re-run election (twice nullified
because of election-day violence) in which Argentinean troops
detained two senators. MINUSTAH reported that Senator
Supplice Beauzile possessed an unregistered weapon at the
time of the routine stop.

5. (SBU) Comment: The incident in Grand Saline is the latest
in a string of incidents in which parliamentarians have been,
in their view, unduly detained by MINUSTAH troops. MINUSTAH
points out that most parliamentarians' cars are not specially
marked, parliamentary ids are untrustworthy, and they do not
have a clear understanding from the government of how they
are to respect parliamentary immunity. In this light,
Supplice's insistence that she be afforded special treatment
in an area on high security alert after two failed elections
seemed to many Haitian observers to be unwarranted. Benoit's
statements, however, resonated with much of the Haitian
public, who fairly or unfairly expect MINUSTAH to address the
problem of gang violence. Preval's public statement that his
government is consulting with the gangs puts the onus of
responsibility for coping with the violence back on his
government, for the moment. End Comment.
SANDERSON

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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