Aristide agrees to stay out election, says Manning



HAITIAN President Jean Bertrand-Aristide will not seek re-election when his term expires in 2006, Prime Minister Patrick Manning said yesterday.

Manning also said Aristide had agreed “on the identification, in consultation with the Opposition, of someone who is neutral to be Prime Minister (and Government) of Haiti“.

Aristide gave that assurance at a meeting with a Caricom Prime Ministers delegation and Aristide in Jamaica last weekend.

Manning, who was part of the delegation, told reporters at a news briefing at Whitehall, Port of Spain, yesterday that the meeting was “completely successful”.

The delegation also included Caricom chairman Prime Minister PJ Patterson of Jamaica, Bahamian PM Perry Christie and St Lucian leader Kenny Anthony.

Manning insisted however that a plan for economic recovery of the Caricom member state was critical to any plan to restore democracy to that nation.

“The fundamental problem in Haiti today is that citizens have not been able to achieve the levels and standards of living to which they aspire and until such time that significant progress is seen to be made in that direction, a measure of instability will subsist in Haiti.”

Haiti is now being run by presidential decree following the dissolution of the Parliament last month. There have been widespread public demonstrations in Haiti as citizens and opposition politicians demand that Aristide must go. Parliamentary elections are expected before year’s end and following this a new prime minister is to be appointed.

Manning said Aristide later thanked Caricom and the observers there for the agreement. “He said that the best way in which he could thank us would be to ensure that the arrangements are implemented,” Manning added.

“Not only did Aristide (and his team of four ministers) agree with the Caricom proposals (but) they also accepted that a series of confidence-building actions by the government and others could result in a return to a state of normalcy to Haiti,” Manning added.

Manning said Caricom has proposed a mechanism for Haiti to return to the polls.

He said agreement was also reached on a number of issues including :

– the need for the establishment of proper rules for demonstrations in Haiti

– the release of political detainees in Haiti (and) a process of review of all political prisoners

– the need for the disarming of strong arm groups

– establishment of an electoral commission

– establishment of a broad based-advisor council of people to advise the government in circumstances where the Parliament does not now exist or is not functional

– the need for the appointment of a new government.

Manning said time limits were given for these measures to be implemented.

Manning was critical of a headline in last Sunday’s Express saying there was “no chaos”

at the meeting in Jamaica.

Manning said another Caricom mission headed by the Foreign Minister of the Bahamas is to return to Haiti today to discuss with the Opposition the Caricom proposals for restoration of democracy in that country.

Manning said United States President George W Bush was being informed of all the latest development in Haiti by Patterson.