By Chris Patterson
KINGSTON, Jamaica (JIS) – Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, has given the commitment of Jamaica and the wider region to finding satisfactory and sustainable solutions for the people of the Republic of Haiti.
He was speaking during the opening ceremony of the meeting of Haitian Stakeholders at the ministry of foreign affairs and foreign trade in downtown Kingston on Sunday, June 11. The discussions, which will continue until June 13, follow the CARICOM Special Mission to Haiti on February 27, which was led by prime minister Holness.
“Jamaica is honoured to have been entrusted by CARICOM, and you [Haitian stakeholders], to host these talks at a time when dialogue at the highest possible level is essential, necessary and critical to achieving consensus,” Holness noted. Jamaica supports the process of inclusive and open dialogue and efforts to find solutions to Haiti’s ongoing challenges.
“It is encouraging to see represented here today, stakeholders from a broad spectrum of Haitian society, and I am pleased to note that some of you were part of our earlier engagement in Port Au Prince. This is a powerful demonstration of your individual and collective will to bring positive change to the difficult situation in your beloved country,” he pointed out.
Prime Minister Holness noted that during the sessions in Haiti, there was clear consensus that security was an immediate and critical concern, but that more inclusive and broader dialogue was also necessary.
He said further that it was made clear that many Haitian stakeholders would wish to have the opportunity to widen the political consensus towards the holding of national elections, under the appropriate conditions.
“You spoke and we listened, conscious that every stage of engagement must facilitate Haitian perspectives and support Haitian-led solutions. It was within this context and on the basis of the findings from the Special Mission, that CARICOM established the Eminent Persons Group to take the process forward in facilitating the Good Offices Role to which the region remains committed,” the prime minister said.
The Eminent Persons Group consists of the former prime minister of The Bahamas, Perry Christie; former prime minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding; and former prime minister of Saint Lucia, Dr Kenny Anthony.
Prime Minister Holness said the consultations represent the latest in a long tradition of regional solidarity and action in support of Haiti, as an integral member of CARICOM.
“We recognise the importance of making every effort to find solutions. We are convinced that with the right spirit and opportunities to facilitate inclusive participation in a neutral environment, there can be movement in building on the groundwork already laid. These contributions are also in support of a larger framework of complementary processes taking place at the national level in Haiti, and among Haiti’s international partners bilaterally, and with international partners,” he pointed out.
The prime minister urged all the parties to approach the discussions with mutual respect and in a spirit of openness and goodwill.
“You can be assured of Jamaica’s continued support as we work in different ways towards restoring peace and prosperity to the world’s first free black republic; restoring the stability and well-being that Haiti and her people so well deserve,” he noted that Jamaica is proud of the strong historical links and the people-to-people connections between the two nations, which have existed for hundreds of years.
Prime Minister Holness expressed sympathy to the government and people of Haiti on the tragic loss of lives, injuries and damage to infrastructure following the recent heavy rains, flooding and earthquake, which have further exacerbated the critical humanitarian crisis facing the country and people.
Haitian prime minister, Dr Ariel Henry, expressed gratitude to all the stakeholders for facilitating the discussions.
“We all know that no sustainable solution to Haiti’s problems will come from outside, neither can it be imposed by others whether they be from CARICOM or elsewhere. It is up to us, the people of Haiti to together, amongst ourselves, through our own efforts, find a common national project which will bring us together and to have a rebirth of our nation,” he said.
He noted that this is critical in rebuilding the country’s democracy.
Among officials attending the meeting of Haitian stakeholders are prime minister of The Bahamas and chair of the CARICOM conference of heads of government, Philip Davis; CARICOM secretary-general, Dr Carla Barnett; minister of foreign affairs and foreign trade, senator Kamina Johnson Smith; representatives from Haiti; the Eminent Persons Group; and representatives from international partners and donor support.