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OAS ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL UNDERSCORES OPPORTUNITIES FOR HAITI

  October 18, 2002

The Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luigi R. Einaudi, said the recent Resolution 822 of the OAS Permanent Council "creates a major opportunity, at a critical moment, for the government of Haiti to hold elections in 2003, to generate international economic and political support by strengthening the rule of law.” Einaudi spoke yesterday at a Trinity College seminar attended by a wide range of Haiti watchers, including staff of Washington D.C. think tanks, the U.S. State Department, Congress, universities and Haitian organizations.

He stressed that after two years of unsuccessful efforts to broker a negotiated agreement between the government and opposition parties within the Convergence Démocratique, OAS member states decided to support the Haitian government's right to hold elections in 2003 and to urge normalization of economic cooperation between the government and international financial institutions. He emphasized that the Permanent Council's September 4 resolution was adopted with the explicit understanding that Haiti would undertake a series of agreed measures in keeping with democratic procedures.

The next critical step, Einaudi said, is the creation by November 4, 2002 of a new Provisional Electoral Council (CEP), in which major institutions are to be represented on the basis of a formula already agreed to by all parties. November 4 is also the date when the OAS Secretary General is to present his first report since adoption of the resolution.

The Assistant Secretary General said that the OAS Special Mission to Strengthen Democracy, functioning in Haiti since April, 2002, is being reinforced to support actions agreed to in the resolution. Confidence could be immediately enhanced, argued the Assistant Secretary General, by action on the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into the events of December 17, 2001, expeditious payment of reparations to the victims of those events, and the development of a disarmament program capable of eliciting international support.

Einaudi said he was disturbed by the extent to which Haitian national concerns are currently being sacrificed to narrower personal and group concerns. He called on all involved -- government, opposition, civil society and others, in Haiti and in the Haitian diaspora -- to find ways to work together in dignity “in order to turn the bicentennial of Haitian independence in 2004 into an opportunity to channel Haitian energy into the building of a state that can encourage development and the rule of law.”

Reference: E-206/02