September 5, 2000


Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General César today called on Haiti's government and political parties to ensure that next November's presidential elections not repeat the problems that occurred after last May's senatorial elections.

"That could mean a significant breakdown in Haiti's democracy," Mr. Gaviria remarked in reporting to the Organization's Permanent Council of member country ambassadors on the OAS mission he led to the Caribbean country last month to explore ways to strengthen democracy. The Mission, which included the OAS Assistant Secretary General, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Assistant Secretary General, and the OAS Ambassadors from Argentina, Chile and Venezuela, met with Haitian President René Préval, other top authorities and a cross section of political actors, including former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The Secretary General stressed the need for the government of Haiti to engage political parties and civil society in dialogue to resolve the country's problems. "No solution will come from outside. The international community, including the Organization of American States, can assist and facilitate a solution to Haiti's problem, but it is Haitians themselves who must deal with the international community's concerns stemming from the interpretation of the electoral laws and what ensued after the May 21 elections."

Replying to the Secretary General's report, Jean Ricot Dormeus, Chargé d'Affaires for Haiti, thanked the OAS for sending the mission. He defended the government's effort at dialogue, citing the composition of the Provisional Electoral Council and the electoral law itself as products of that process. Mr. Dormeus said Haiti's government has begun to explore the availability of the political parties and other groups to discuss a solution to the current problems while laying the foundation for successful presidential and senatorial elections next November 26.

In his remarks on behalf of the CARICOM countries, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ambassador Kingsley Layne supported the call for dialogue. He also stated CARICOM's concern that since the OAS mission left Haiti, "we have not seen any effort from the Haitian government to initiate the promised dialogue."

Canada's Ambassador Peter Boehm and United States Ambassador Luis Lauredo both restated their governments' concerns. According to Ambassador Boehm, "under the present conditions, Canada would find it difficult to financially support another observation mission to Haiti for the November presidential election." Ambassador Lauredo warned that "in the absence of meaningful change, United States will not support the presidential and legislative elections of November 26, financially or through observation missions."