CARICOM joins OAS in calling for free and fair elections in Haiti
Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries Wednesday said they remained optimistic that free and fair elections will be held in Haiti in October even as strategies are being discussed to strengthen the democratic process in the French-speaking CARICOM) country.
Chairman of the Permanent Council of the Organisation of American States (OAS), Ambassador Eliston Rahming of The Bahamas said he remained optimistic that the people of Haiti will find ways to strengthen their democracy.
Rahming was speaking at a special sitting of the Council where Haiti’s Foreign Minister Pierrot Delienne outlined the situation in the Caribbean island where Interim President Jocelerme Privert has issued a decree ordering voters to elect a new head of state on October 9.
“As Chairman of the Permanent Council, I would like to express our optimism that the Haitian people will find a way to strengthen its democracy and its electoral institutions in accordance with the principles of the international law and the Charter of the OAS, the Bahamian diplomat said.
Dominica’s Ambassador to the OAS, Hubert Charles, speaking on behalf of the CARICOM caucus, told the Permanent Council that Haiti remains a “legitimate and valued member of our hemispheric family” which is working to ensure political stability in the country.
He told the Haitian Foreign Minister that Port Au Prince recognises that political legitimacy and stability are necessary for the “continued social and economic progress of the Haitian people.
“We thank you for providing us with an update on the ongoing preparations for the scheduled elections. We are certain that the elections will provide an opportunity for the Haitian people to exercise their constitutional right to select the country’s leaders,” Charles said.
He told the Council that the OAS has already been engaged in supporting the Haitian provisional government and the Electoral Commission in “laying the groundwork for successful elections and a return to what the Minister describes as constitutional normalcy.
“We wish to assure the Honourable Minister that this Council and the OAS in general stands ready to provide additional technical and supervisory support so that the aspirations of the provisional government and the Haitian people regarding the holding of free, fair and inclusive elections are realised.”
Charles said that he was looking forward to further discussions with the Haitian delegation “on ways in which the OAS can support the government in ensuring this important outcome”.
He said he was urging all OAS member states to “rally behind the government and provide the moral and if necessary the material and critical partnership support necessary to ensure the success of the elections”.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador, Sir Ronald Sanders said the situation in Haiti has been a matter of concern for member states and supported the statement made by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro Lemes that every effort should be made to support the elections in the French Caribbean Island without delay and in a calm atmosphere”
Sir Ronald said that St. John’s is pleased to have heard from Delienne that the process for elections “is now solidly on track” and that Privert has issued the decree for the October 9 poll.
“This is a significant and most welcome development. The dates have been set an all delegations here will hold the authorities in Haiti to their implementation,” he said, noting that free and fair elections are “vitally important for the effective and sustainable governance of that country and for its stability and economic progress”.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador Omari Williams said he is aware of the “increasingly challenging situation” in Haiti but remains hopeful of witnessing “free, fair and transparent legislative, municipal and local elections for a democratically elected President as well as members of the legislature and other bodies”.
Last Thursday, the Haitian parliament failed to meet for a fourth consecutive occasion to decide on the future of Privert, whose term expired more than a month ago.
As had been the case on previous occasions, there was no consensus regarding a quorum among the six political groups represented in the Parliament.
“The quorum is not found at the Chamber of Deputies so the session is again put in continuation,” said Cholzer Chancy, the President of the National Assembly. He gave no indication as to when the next session of Parliament will be held.
Privert came to office under the so-called February 5 agreement that was brokered after then President Michel Marelly left office without a successor being elected.
Under the terms of the agreement, Parliament had to elect an interim president for a term of 120 days and confirm a consensus prime minister.
Continuation of the elections process to the second round was scheduled to take place on April 24 and the new president, elected by that process, would have been installed on May 14, 2016.
But the election has not taken place and is now most likely to be held on October 9 and if a candidate does not receive the necessary amount of votes to prevent a second round, then that will take place on January 8, 2017 and the final election results will be published January 30, next year.
The October elections would also include voting for one-third of the Senate.
In a statement posted on its official website, the French government said it welcomed Pruvert’s announcement regarding the elections on October 9, noting that “all Haitian citizens must be able to make their choice in free and transparent elections organised by the Haitians themselves.
“Only institutions resulting from the election will be capable of taking up the economic and social challenges Haiti is facing,” Paris said.