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Trinidad : Haiti’s interim Prime Minister invites Manning to Haiti

Latortue : “Why do the European people and the African Union want to send observers and not the Caricom people?”

By Exilus Deceyon

Port of Spain, Janv. 26, 06 [AlterPresse] --- Haiti’s interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue has invited Prime Minister Patrick Manning and several other regional government heads to the state to observe the troubled country’s electoral process.

Latortue met with Manning in his capacity as the Caricom chairman at Whitehall in Port-of-Spain yesterday. His main purpose of the meeting was to request election observers to monitor Haiti’s presidential election on February 7, after being postponed from January 8.

Haiti was scheduled to hold municipal elections on October 9, 2004, legislative elections on November 13, 2004 and presidential elections on December 18, 2004.

Amidst an unstable political and security environment, Latortue said Caricom leaders may be misinformed about the electoral process in his country.

During a press conference at Hilton Trinidad in St Ann’s yesterday, Latortue said he invited Manning and other Caricom leaders to observe what was happening in Haiti for themselves.

“I said send a group to Haiti and send them to see the process before the election or after the election,” Latortue said.

“The problem has been the communication between Haiti and Caricom.”

Latortue extended the invitation as Caricom leaders are scheduled to hold their next intercessional meeting in Port-of-Spain on February 8 and 9.

“I want the moral support,” Latortue said.

“Why do the European people and the African Union want to send observers and not the Caricom people?” he asked.

Latortue went to the Hilton immediately after his meeting with Manning, accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Knowlson Gift, and Haiti’s ambassador to the Organisation of American States Duly Brutus.

On Monday, OAS secretary general Albert Ramdin, renewed the call by the international community for the country’s February 7 presidential elections to be held on schedule.

Latortue conceded the security situation in Haiti “remains a big problem” and the nation needs to establish the proper political stability which requires long-term planning.

“We are not yet at that stage,” he said.

“We have had too many political disturbances in the past.”

He said there are 35 presidential candidates in the election and only five of them have a realistic chance of winning.

Latortue did not just meet with Manning to request election observers. He also lobbied support for Haiti to be regain membership within Caricom.

Caricom has refused to recognise the US-appointed interim government in Haiti since the controversial departure of its exiled president Jean Bertrand-Aristide in February, 2004.

Aristide was granted asylum in South Africa.

Caricom has maintained Aristide departed Haiti under suspicious circumstances and at its 15th intercessional meeting in St Kitts, on March 27, 2004, the regional body’s leaders decided not to recognise the US-backed interim government.

But Latortue said the country’s upcoming general elections should change that since Caricom would be dealing with a duly elected government. [ed gp apr 26/01/2006 09:00]