Prime Minister Gerard Latortue’s decision to form a nonpolitical interim government in Haiti is bound to displease most of the political factions in the country, but it is a prudent and practical move that deserves widespread support.
This cabinet has only one overriding task: to pave the way for free and fair elections to select the leaders of a new government. Under the circumstances, the absence of partisan political figures in the interim administration is a positive factor. The only alternative — a government representing all political sectors — would have been unwieldy and ultimately unworkable given the multitude of factions and the potential for bickering.
The last thing Haiti needs at this moment is political infighting. Mr. Latortue himself lacks a political base, but projecting an image of efficiency and impartiality can help him to turn this potential weakness into a strength. Only someone who is considered above the political fray can guide Haiti toward elections in this crucial hour. We urge Mr. Latortue to keep this in mind when the inevitable lure of retaining power becomes a temptation.
At the moment, nothing would be more helpful for Mr. Latortue’s fledgling government — nor for Haiti — than a vote of confidence from the neighboring islands in the Caribbean Community, or Caricom. Unfortunately, resentment and suspicion over whether Mr. Aristide’s departure from Haiti was voluntary or coerced has sparked a feud with the interim government. Perhaps better consultation between the U.S. and French governments, on the one hand, and Caribbean leaders, on the other, could have produced a more-united front. It is time, however, to put an end to this pointless debate and consider what is best for Haiti and the region, and that means supporting the interim government.
Mr. Aristide’s presence in the region, thanks to a welcome extended by Jamaica, presents a clear danger insofar as it has the potential to incite his followers in Haiti to violence on the false hope that the former president can return home. That isn’t in the cards.
In the weeks preceding Mr. Aristide’s fall, Caricom leaders played a useful role by presenting a plan that could have stabilized the political situation and avoided much of the bloodshed that ultimately ensued. Unfortunately, events moved too fast, but Caricom can play a positive role once more when its leaders meet in St. Kitts this week by extending support to Mr. Latortue’s government and rejecting Mr. Aristide’s pipe dreams. The people of Haiti want peace, clean government and an opportunity to achieve economic prosperity. They deserve the help of their neighbors.