June 20, 2002
OAS REPORTS ENDGAME HAS BEGUN ON HAITI
The Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Ambassador Luigi Einaudi, told the international community Wednesday that he believes the stage is set for Haiti’s government and opposition to bring the country’s political crisis to an end by strengthening the rule of law and agreeing to parliamentary and municipal elections with international observation.
Fresh from Haiti where he and St. Lucian Foreign Affairs Minister Julian Hunte led a joint OAS/CARICOM initiative, Ambassador Einaudi reported to the Permanent Council on the outcome of their June 10 to 18 visit. He noted that last Saturday’s face-to-face meeting between President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the opposition Convergence Démocratique was the first such encounter since President Aristide had assumed office in February 2001. The Assistant Secretary General added that the President of the Catholic Conference of Haitian Bishops, Hubert Constant, had played a key role in facilitating that meeting.
Einaudi said all parties were agreed on the need for further steps to implement OAS Permanent Council Resolution, CP/RES. 806, which called for a range of measures to strengthen the rule of law and improve security in the wake of violence on December 17, 2001. He also said a draft “Initial Accord” was distributed to the ruling Lavalas party and to the Convergence. It contains five articles: (i) the establishment of a new credible, independent and neutral provisional electoral council (ii) the establishment of a security environment conducive to free elections (iii) a national dialogue to reinforce democracy, human rights and economic and social development (iv) arrangements for the appointment of the members of the provisional electoral council and (v) a commitment to normalizing Haiti’s international economic and financial relations. He noted that Lavalas had provided written comments and that he expected to receive similar comments from the Convergence.
The Assistant Secretary General also told the diplomats from the Americas that the report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry should be completed before the end of the month and that Secretary General César Gaviria was ready to join the next mission to Haiti, July 7 to 9, if it appeared that the “Initial Accord” between the Haitian government and the political opposition could be completed then.
Saint Lucia’s Ambassador to the OAS, Sonia Johnny, who was on the OAS/CARICOM delegation to Haiti, lauded Ambassador Einaudi’s report as “extremely important” and noted that recent developments prove that CARICOM’s “faith in the Haitian people is not misguided.”
Haiti’s Permanent Representative, Ambassador Raymond Valcin, expressed his government’s hopes for a resolution of the crisis. He reported on a number of measures the government had taken to honor its obligations, and cited the efforts the Aristide government had made to re-open lines of communication with the opposition. He stressed that the government was “ready to pursue, unconditionally-whenever and wherever-exchanges with the opposition,” but objected strongly to making agreement with the opposition a condition for international financial assistance to Haiti, a policy he described as impoverishing the already poorest country in the Hemisphere.
Ambassadors from several member states and France expressed encouragement at the progress reported by the Assistant Secretary General, stressing their commitment to a resolution of the Haitian crisis in keeping with democratic standards. A number of Ambassadors stressed the need for the government, the political opposition, and civil society to do their part in settling the long-running political crisis in Haiti.