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17996: (hermantin)Sunsentinel-Caribbean Community leaders to hold talks with Haitian op (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Caribbean Community leaders to hold talks with Haitian opposition, civil
groups in the Bahamas

Posted January 17 2004

GEORGETOWN, Guyana -- At least four leaders from the 15-nation Caribbean
Community will meet with the Haitian opposition and civil society groups in
the Bahamas to discuss ways to pull the country from a political deadlock
holding up elections, officials said Friday.

The two-day meeting in Nassau starting Tuesday will involve opposition
parties, churches and other civil society organizations that had requested
the meeting during a visit to Haiti earlier this month by four community
officials, the Guyana-based Caribbean Community said in a statement.

``The heads of government also expect to meet with (Haitian President
Jean-Bertrand) Aristide and his party,'' though ``any such meeting will be
held separately and at a different time and place,'' the statement said,
without elaborating.

Pressure has been building on Aristide's administration since his party won
2000 legislative elections that observers said were flawed. An opposition
coalition has refused to participate in new elections unless Aristide
resigns, but he has said he won't step down until his term ends in 2006.

This week at a Summit of the Americas in Monterrey, Mexico, Aristide said
government representatives would meet in the Bahamas next week with the
opposition and members of the 15-member Caribbean Community. He said
international observers would monitor talks over setting up a nine-member
electoral council to set a date for new legislative elections.

But the opposition refuses to talk to Aristide or any of his
representatives, saying he must be replaced by a transitional governing

The Caribbean Community said U.S. and Canadian representatives are expected
to observe next week's meeting, and the Organization of American States also
is to sending a team.

Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie is to host the meeting, with the
leaders of Jamaica, Trinidad and St. Lucia also attending.      Email story
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Copyright  2004, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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