Verbal clash as OAS discusses Haiti’s request for hemispheric mission


The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) Wednesday moved closer to sending a mission to the French Caribbean island of Haiti as diplomats from Antigua and Barbuda and Port au Prince were engaged in a verbal clash on the issue.

The Permanent Council agreed to hold further talks with other stakeholders “as to how we will set up that mission to Haiti and that this certainly be considered at the next regular session of the Permanent Council.

“We also ask the Secretariat to set up terms of reference that we might consider regarding that mission to Haiti…at the next meeting,” the Council added.

The United States Interim Permanent Representative, Bradley A Freden, said Washington would be prepared to provide funding for the mission saying his country “welcomes the government of Haiti’s invitation for an OAS delegation which we hope will encourage a constructive political dialogue among all stake holders to pave the way for legislative and presidential elections in 2021.

“My delegation is deeply concerned and I know you are with security trends in Haiti which have deteriorated over the last two months. Humanitarian needs and human rights also remain pressing concerns for the United States. We therefore urge member states to act….quickly to select the OAS delegation and to set a date for the OAS mission to travel to Haiti,” Freden said, adding that Washington “strongly supports this mission, is willing to provide funding to ensure broad participation from member states from across the region”.

Earlier, Haiti’s Ambassador to the OAS, Bocchit Edmond, engaged in a verbal clash with the Antigua and Barbuda Ambassador, Sir Ronald Sanders, accusing the latter of having an agenda to destabilise his country.

Sir Ronald had said that Antigua and Barbuda was gratified that the Haitian government had indicated that it was setting no “pre-conditions for the Good Offices mission and that it does not expect the OAS mission to facilitate the organisation of a constitutional referendum.

“That was welcome news and it was especially important that the Haitian representative, Ambassador Bocchit Edmond made that position crystal clear to all of us,” Sir Ronald said, adding that Antigua and Barbuda had one further issue that remained unclear.

“We believe that the Permanent Council could benefit from more and better particulars,” he said adding that the issue concerns the March 17 resolution on Haiti “which specifically requested the Secretary General to advise the government and other major stakeholders in Haiti of the Permanent Council’s offer to undertake a Good Offices role”.

Sir Ronald said that while it was necessary for the Council to have heard from the Haitian diplomat regarding the consent from the Haitian government “equally it is important that we should hear consent from the other major stakeholders.

“We cannot promote a dialogue with one party,” he added.

OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro that at least 28 different political and social actors in Haiti have been informed and apprised of the mission and that international actors, civil society “ a very broad assembly of interested actors have been informed, all of which have responded with interest and stating their intention to participate in the process”.

The Haitian diplomat said that the Haitian government has decided that  the referendum will be held on June 27 and the legislative and presidential elections on September 19 with November 21 set aside for a second ballot.

“This is published officially in our electoral commission that the scheduled,” the Haitian diplomat said, adding that the Jovenel Moise administration always believed in dialogue and that Ambassador Sanders “is entitled to his own opinion.

“Every Ambassador present here has a right to express his or her position or that of his or her government. But these expressions must be made respectfully, but when a government or ambassador seeks to brutalise my country as a pawn in their political agenda that is upsetting, naturally because we all have the same rights because if you are seeking to discredit and destabilise my country will say no enough is enough,” Edmond said.

He said that the Antigua and Barbuda diplomat had even “lied” about a meeting on Tuesday night, saying “if you want that respect for your country, stop using the name of your country to accuse other countries.

“Your accusations, those things you have been tweeting, those things you have written, published,  they are not acceptable. You ought to recognise that,” Edmond said calling on Sir Ronald to say whether he did so at the behest of St John’s or on his own behalf.

In response, Sir Ronald, who has written extensively on the situation in Haiti over the years, called in the chair of the Permanent Council “to intervene and put an end to this.

“I have not involved myself in any personal confrontation with Bocchit Edmond, I don’t know why this is persisting. My country must be judged by what it says and does in this Permanent Council. These personal attacks, which I know is part of the armoury that is utilised from time to time, including calling up governments and intimidating them, including my own government to tell them they must stop me from speaking…but we have not brought this to the attention of the Council.

“This is childishness and we are here doing serious business which is trying to ensure that all member states…adhere to the principles of our charters. That is all I am trying to do and I have been an ambassador for 43 years…and I have never had an accusation of this kind made before,” Sir Ronald added.

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  1. We should remember Winston S Churchill’s quote, November 11, 1947: ‘Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time….’

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