Caribbean Community (CARICOM) leaders have appointed three former prime ministers as members of an Eminent Persons Group (EPG) as the regional integration grouping seeks to extend its good offices to the government of Haiti and other Haitian stakeholders.
A statement issued by the Guyana-based CARICOM Secretariat named the EPG members as former Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie, the former Jamaica prime minister, Bruce Golding; and their St Lucian counterpart, Dr Kenny D. Anthony.
“The group will initiate and oversee the community’s provision of good office support in designated priority areas, including security, governance, the electoral process, and long-term development planning and advocacy. They will also liaise with key international partners and agencies,” the secretariat said.
It said that a technical team, comprised of experts from CARICOM member states, the CARICOM Secretariat and regional specialised agencies will support the group.
At their summit in The Bahamas in February, the regional leaders reiterated that CARICOM must play a leadership role in addressing the deteriorating situation in Haiti, “towards which there are moral and political obligations”.
In a statement issued at the end of their summit, the leaders “affirmed that decisive action is needed at the earliest opportunity by CARICOM, in view of the mounting insecurity and its widespread impact on all facets of Haitian life”.
Their statement followed talks with Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
They acknowledged the adoption of the December 21, 2022, political agreement, the National Consensus for an Inclusive Transition and Transparent Elections, launched by interim Haitian Prime Minister, Dr Ariel Henry, “but were of the view that it needed to be more inclusive”.
The leaders also agreed “to build international partnerships in support of efforts to return Haiti to peace and stability as a necessary precursor for free, fair and credible election”.
Earlier this month, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres described Haiti as a “tragic situation” and appealed to the international community to do more to help the French-speaking CARICOM country overcome its present political and socio-economic conditions.
Guterres said that Haiti faces dramatic humanitarian needs, a political system that is paralysed, and levels of violence by gangs “that are absolutely appalling”.
The UN Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH) said in the month of April alone, more than 600 people were killed in violence in the country’s capital. This follows the killing of at least 846 people in the first three months of 2023.
BINUH said that overall, the number of victims of killings, injuries and kidnappings increased by 28 per cent in the first quarter of the year, with a total of 1,634 cases reported.
Guterres told reporters there is also a political problem in Haiti and that there is a need to bring the different stakeholders together “to find a political way for a legitimate government to be recognised … and we need to address the violence of the gangs”.