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Caribbean leaders call for inclusive elections in Haiti

Owen Arthur, the Prime Minister of Barbados, has told a town meeting in New
York that Haiti will only be re-admitted to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)
if it holds elections with a high voter participation.

CARICOM governments have refused to recognize the Alexandre/Latortue
administration, and Haiti has been suspended from the various councils of CARICOM
since March 2004. That decision was taken because, as Arthur said, "We do not
agree (with) the way Mr. Aristide was removed from office."

Although some regional governments had indicated a willingness to re-admit
Haiti once elections are held, the leader of the Barbados government said the
current circumstances surrounding the election in Haiti are not acceptable to
CARICOM, "because they have elections planned but less than 50 percent of the
electorate has been registered".

He continued, "Now, if you have elections, where such a large proportion of
the society has been disenfranchised, we could not honour the obligation in the
Caribbean to recognise the government as a legitimate government, even though
the process might have been gone through of an election having been called."

Arthur’s comments confirmed the new harder line CARICOM position articulated
at the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September.

Addressing the General Assembly on 23 September, Trinidad and Tobago’s
Foreign Minister, Knowlson Gift, had called for the installation of a "truly
democratically elected government" in Haiti.

At the same summit, St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph
Gonsalves, said the CARICOM partners were anxious to re-admit Haiti, but
noted that a continuing crisis impeded the realization of that goal.

Gonsalves said, "It would be a betrayal of all that we hold dear to ignore
the interruption of democracy, the abuses of human rights and the breakdown of
law and order merely to appease perfidious power."

"Political victimisation continues apace with the cruel detention and
violation of human rights for former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, the most glaring
example," said Gonsalves, noting "while, on the other side of the coin, the
decision of the Supreme Court to quash the sentences of 15 FRAPH thugs, convicted
of involvement in the 1994 Raboteau massacre, has all the elements of
political motivation".

On September 15, Haitian justice formally accused the former Prime Minister Neptune in a Massacre, occurred on February 11,2004 in the northern city of Saint-Marc, before the fall of Ancien Régime lavalas. The District Attorney Clunie Pierre Jules, has concluded that there is enough evidence to prosecute in a criminal trial Neptnue and 29 other personnes involved.

During a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister, Paul Martin, during the UN
summit, Caribbean leaders insisted that restoring ties could only happen if Haiti
takes steps to ensure the 20 November presidential and legislative elections
are legitimate, including improving voter registration and making the
Provisional Electoral Council more efficient.

The head of CARICOM, Edwin Carrington, said Caribbean leaders told Martin,
"Without an acceptable election, relations with CARICOM would be difficult." The
leaders added that Provisional Electoral Council "does not seem to be getting
its act together," Carrington said, without elaborating.