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No playing field in Haiti says Gonsalves

As they headed into caucus yesterday, Caricom leaders appeared split over whether or not to recognise Haiti's interim Latortue administration.

However, T&T's Prime Minister Patrick Manning said he believed the time had come for the region to put aside its differences regarding Haiti, and recognise the interim administration in

"We believe that the time has come for Haiti to be fully integrated into the Caricom movement. What has happened in the past, we consider very unfortunate.

"We don't like it at all. However, we think the time has come to move on," Manning told reporters.

St Vincent and the Grenadines prime minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves maintained, though, he was still not in favour of such a move.

"The position of the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, unless I can be convinced otherwise, is that the heads or group of heads can go and meet Latortue. The heads can go, but they will not be representing me," he told reporters.

Gonsalves remains concerned over the circumstances, which led to the removal of former president Jean Bertrand Aristide and the installation of the Latortue government.

"Latortue was installed by the Americans. You do not have democracy in Haiti today. There is no playing field, so who wants to recognise Haiti can recognise Haiti.

"The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines does not recognise the Latortue administration, and that's the position," he said.

Whatever decision Caricom made may influence how other countries treated Haiti, Manning said.

"We rather suspect that a number of countries around the world are looking at Caricom, to see what we are doing, before they take their own position on Haiti."

Manning also described as "very interesting," discussions held on Haiti before the start of the Caricom summit on Sunday.

Haiti is one of the key agenda items for the July 4-7 summit of Caricom heads of government in Grenada, with the matter due to be further discussed by the leaders in retreat on Calivigny Island today.

Host prime minister Dr Keith Mitchell, who has already urged his colleagues to re-engage Port-au-Prince, said the retreat on Calivigny, a resort island off the Grenada south coast, was likely to adopt a compromise position that would make the member states comfortable.

But he stopped short of telling the Caribbean Media Corporation that he believed the leaders would recognise the interim administration.

St Lucia's prime minister Dr Kenny Anthony, who has lead responsibility for governance and justice in the region, described the current situation as contentious, noting that the "difficulty is compounded by a number of factors.

"At the same time, we recognise as well that we are confirmed democracies. We clearly outline a path to political power, based on the freedom of citizens to elect governments on their own free will.

"We do not support the imposition of governments," he told CMC.

Caricom leaders met the Organisation of American States secretary general Caesar Gaviria yesterday, but the outcome of their deliberations was not known.

So far, the regional grouping has been able to get the hemispheric organisation to agree to conduct an independent investigation into the circumstances that led to Aristide's removal from office in February.


Trinidad and Tobago News

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