Gonsalves Challenges Caricom on Haiti      Aug 5

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Gonsalves Challenges Caricom on Haiti

by John Maxwell

August 5, 2004

Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, says he has no intention of sitting down in the councils of Caricom with any representative of the so-called Government of Haiti. He says he will not consider the presence of Haitian represntatation in Caricom until certain minimum conditios are met -;principally, the restoration of democracy and the stabilisation of law and order.

Fanmi Lvalas and all other organisations must be free from persecution and terror and must be free to operate within the limits of the law. Criminals must be brought to justice.

Gonsalves referred to a letter he received from the Caricom bureau which has been examining a report of foreign ministers who went to Haiti recently of talks with La Tortue and others.

Gonsalves declared that he would not attend any meeting with representatives of those who aided and abetted the forcible removal of a lawfully elected President of Haiti by outside forces with the help of thugs. .

Gonsalves was being interviewed on Drive Time Live, a Jamaican radio programme. He said that he knows that he is not alone among the Prime Ministers of Caricom in the way he feels. He could however speak only for his own government and "Nobody is going to bulldoze me" he said. Although he expects that many people inside and outside the Caribbean will be angered by his position he isn't worried by that prospect.

Gonsalves says he is dealing with principle, and he will not deal with anyone who aided and abetted those who forced a lawfully elected president to surrender his position. He maintained hat President Aristide had never resigned; that he simply told those who had come to take him that if they wanted him to leave he would leave. That was not a resignation.

Gonsalves said that he had supported the sending of a CARICOM delegation to Haiti simply to preserve organisational unity. He had expected that the delegation would have brought back a report which would be discussed at a Caricom meeting at some future date.

The St Vincent Prime Minister said the Bureau had met and written him and others that it wished to have answers by the sixteenth of August. He was astounded by the speed with which the delegation's recommendation for Haitian representation had been dealt with. The bureau had even suggested that Caricom could take such a decision without meeting, simply by letters between the parties as provided for by Article 21 of the Traty. He would not agree with this proposal.

Gonsalves says he is insisting on a full meeting to discuss the matter. He would not be part of any false unity' whatever the motives. , The issue was of such importance that "all must meet and all must agree."

The Caricom treaty was not divisible. St. Vincent would not be satisfied with anything less than the restoration of democracy in Haiti.

"The same way you can force Aristide to resign is the same way you can force Manning, Patterson or Gonsalves to resign."

Copyright ©2004 John Maxwell.