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17586: Blanchet: Fw: Mbeki Tipped to Steer Peace Negotiations in Haiti (fwd)

From: Max Blanchet <MaxBlanchet@worldnet.att.net>


 Mbeki Tipped to Steer Peace Negotiations in Haiti

 Business Day (Johannesburg)
December 29, 2003
Posted to the web December 29, 2003

 By Hopewell Radebe, Chief Political Correspondent

 PRESIDENT Thabo Mbeki's visit to Haiti to mark the
bicentenary of the Haitian revolution against France could
lead to SA's mediation in peace talks to end years of internal
conflict in the embattled Caribbean state.

 It is understood that rebels in Haiti are in favour of Mbeki's
mediation and the French government supports the idea on
the grounds that SA's experience with peace talks in the
Democratic Republic of Congo and Burundi could help
Haitians reach a longlasting peace settlement.

 The South African leader is expected to discuss peace
initiatives in Haiti upon his return.

 Mbeki wrote in the Sunday Times yesterday that although
the Haitian revolution did not bring about lasting democracy,
SA must draw lessons from that experience.

 He said as the African slaves of Haiti succeeded in defeating
three of the great European imperial powers Spain, Great
Britain and France so could South Africans "defeat the
challenge of poverty and underdevelopment that confronts
Africans everywhere".

 Haiti remains one of the poorest countries in the world
and continues to be afflicted by political instability.

 Mbeki said its failure to maintain a stable democracy,
which has plagued it since its independence, was an
urgent task that the South African government felt had
to be addressed.

 SA's intervention in Haiti was raised a few weeks ago
during a visit there by advisers to Mbeki and Foreign
Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma to finalise
logistics about Mbeki's visit. However, SA's intervention
in the conflict means that South Africans will have to
celebrate another round of New Year festivities without
Mbeki because his international and diplomatic schedule
has remained hectic.

Last year at the same time he travelled to Brazil and
celebrated New Year with Brazilians at their inauguration
of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

 Accompanied by his wife, Zanele, and Dlamini-Zuma,
Mbeki landed yesterday in the Bahamas for a state visit
and to forge diplomatic relations.

 He will then proceed to Haiti to participate in its New Year
celebrations marking the bicentenary which established the
first black republic in the world.

Presidential spokesman Bheki Khumalo said the president's
departure did not mean he cared less about his country.

 "The public will appreciate the fact that the president's visit
to Brazil had brought about unimaginable economic benefits
in 2003 and that it was instrumental in ensuring Brazil's
support for our Soccer World Cup bid," Khumalo said.

 Foreign affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa said the
regional influence that the Bahamas held in the Caribbean,
especially within the context of the Caribbean Community
(Caricom), was strategic for SA.

 Mamoepa said the Bahamas was focusing on the establishment
of a single market in the region and the Caribbean Court of Justice.

 Mbeki's visit, therefore, aimed to forge closer relations with the
countries of the Caricom, he said.