BRIDGETOWN –The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) has postponed a special session, which was expected to assess the state of constitutional governance in Haiti, yesterday.
The special session was requested by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which is seeking an independent probe into the circumstances surrounding the sudden departure from office of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on February 29.
Informed ministerial and diplomatic sources told the Observer that “diplomatic footwork” was taking place to frustrate the special session, though there was no indication of CARICOM abandoning its initiative.
Antigua and Barbuda, which currently holds the chairmanship of the 15-member regional grouping, had sent the request to the OAS on May 13 for the special session on the Community’s behalf.
It was submitted to Mexico’s ambassador to the OAS, Luis Cabanas, current chairman of the Permanent Council, following the recent meeting in St John’s, Antigua of the CARICOM Bureau.
The request was made in keeping with Article 20 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter for a general assessment of constitutional governance and the democratic order in Haiti, which would include an investigation into the circumstances of Aristide’s departure from office in the face of an armed rebellion.
Article 20 of the Charter states: “In the event of an unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime that seriously impairs the democratic order in a member state, any member state or the OAS secretary-general may request the immediate convocation of the Permanent Council to undertake a collective assessment of the situation and to take such decisions as it deems appropriate.”
However, soon after the CARICOM request, the United States ambassador to the OAS, John Maisto, appealed for its withdrawal.
Ambassador Cabanas, nevertheless, went ahead and arranged for the special session that was scheduled for yesterday.
But apparent ‘diplomatic maneuverings’ earlier this week resulted in the postponement of the special session.
Sources said a ‘consultative meeting’ was instead planned between CARICOM and Latin American ambassadors, to get a “better understanding on approaches to the CARICOM request”.
Ambassador Cabanas is, however, hoping that the special session could still take place by late next week.
However, according to regional ministerial and diplomatic sources, there were still “influences at work” to avoid the special session taking place ahead of the 2004 OAS General Assembly, scheduled for Quito, Ecuador from June 6-8.