Caricom and opposition meet again


Bahamian Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell and Colin Granderson, assistant secretary-general of Caricom have been meeting the Haitian opposition for a second day of talks aimed at solving the political impasse.

While talks continued, police in Port au Prince were called when supporters of President Jean Bertrand Aristide threw rocks and bottles at about 100 students who had been protesting outside a courtroom.

Police responded with tear gas and warning shots, no serious injuries were reported although the independent radio station reported five arrests.

The demonstration was in support of a protest leader summoned to appear in court to answer questions about violence last month during an anti-government march.

Talks continue

Meanwhile, Mr Mitchell and Mr Granderson staged the latest attempt by Caricom to break the political stalemate between the two sides.

Journalist Michael Norton told BBC Caribbean Service that the talks seemed to have little hope of success.

“The talks aren?t really going anywhere. The opposition is adamant – in fact is using it?s time with the delegation – to tell them that they have one demand to make concerning Caricom and that is to understand their refusal to collaborate with Jean Bertrand Aristide.”

“The opposition wants President Aristide him to resign and is intent on demonstrating until he does do so,” Norton said.

 The Caricom delegation is scheduled to meet President Aristide before leaving on Thursday.

They are expected to inform the president of any progress that may have been made.

“They (Caricom) attempted to persuade them (the opposition), that it?s in the interest of the country to compromise but basically it is informative and also to see how things are going before an evaluation in Antigua at the end of march,” Norton said.

The government and opposition have been in a deadlock since 2000 legislative elections that observers said were flawed.

The opposition has refused to participate in elections unless President Aristide resigns, but he says he won’t step down until his term ends in 2006.

At least 51 people have been killed since mid-September in clashes between police, protesters and Aristide supporters.