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28243: Sprague (Comment) CARICOM Energy Cooperation with Haiti? (fwd)

From: J. Sprague

The attached article on Bahamas Foreign affairs minister meeting with
Preval mentions "Haiti's energy and fuel needs".   Thirteen countries
in the Caribbean are importing Venezuelan oil and, I believe, are
getting a 40 per cent discount off the international market price of
oil.  Once this program begins with Haiti, it should allow  for the
new government to build up an oil reserve, slowing inflation, while
hopefully <keeping fingers crossed> foreign aid agencies will
cooperate with the future government's energy plans - instead of
going off in ten separate directions.  I'm also interested to see if
there will be a comprehensive plan to safeguard and reinvest in
public school transportation, as many of the Dignite buses were
demolished and sabotaged by the groups behind the 04' coup.

Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchel of the Bahamas talks with Preval

Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell told the United Nations
Security Council yesterday that helping Haiti to overcome the
difficulties it previously experienced in seeking to become an
integral part of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) will constitute a
priority for CARICOM in its assistance to Haiti.

"An important aspect of this effort will involve facilitating the
smooth integration of Haiti into the CARICOM Single Market, which
came into being on January 1, 2006, and into the various programmes
and institutions that coordinate and underpin the functioning of the
Community," Mr. Mitchell said during an open debate at the U.N. on
the situation in Haiti.

Mr. Mitchell, who is chairman of the CARICOM's Council for Foreign
and Community Relations (COFCOR), said CARICOM "will also seek to
build on the activities it set in train during the transition period
in the areas of institutional development for the establishment of a
permanent electoral council; completion of a study, with
recommendations, of Haiti's energy and fuel needs; an academic
conference on the transition to democracy, bringing together the
region's universities; and the provision of French translations of
key CARICOM documents of a technical nature."

He said CARICOM's contribution "will be constrained only by its lack
of resources and not by a shortage of political will."

The Bahamas Foreign Minister said every effort must be made by all
involved to rectify the organizational shortcomings which bedeviled
Haiti"s presidential and legislative elections on February 7, which
have led to the delay of the second round, as well as the
postponement of the inauguration of the President-Elect Rene Preval.

"Similarly, the preservation of the integrity of the electoral
process is of paramount importance for the legitimacy of the new
government, the future stability of the country and the development
of the Haitian society," Mr. Mitchell said. "The importance of the
local and municipal elections, essential building blocks in Haiti's
constitutional system of democratic governance, should not be allowed
to fade from our awareness."

Noting that the principled position adopted by CARICOM two years ago
is well known, Mr. Mitchell added, "We were of the view that the
fundamental tenets of democratic practice and behaviour had been
compromised in the process of seeking a resolution to the Haitian
political impasse. As the Caribbean Community emphasized in this very
Council Chamber during the debate of January 12, 2005 on the
situation in Haiti, 'We cannot vacillate on principle since it is
essential to our security as small states.' "

He emphasized that a new dawn of hope is rising in Haiti, and advised
that this "opportunity must not be squandered."

"The people of Haiti, the regional community, and the international
community will have to coordinate their respective roles and inputs,"
Mr. Mitchell said. "Yet ultimately, the responsibility for coming
together, for working together, for transforming hope and expectation
into uplifting reality lies ultimately with the Haitian people

It was his view that stability and security are imperative, further
suggesting that without "these essential cornerstones there can be no
social and economic progress, there can be no revitalization of the
fundamental institutions of governance, the judiciary and police in

Mr. Mitchell said stability and security "will also require a renewed
emphasis ? adapted to the realities of Haiti ? on disarmament,
demobilization and social reinsertion."

"In this regard, the peacekeeping mission has a key role to play in
collaboration with the relevant Haitian authorities," Mr. Mitchell
said. "The multiplicity and activities of illegally armed groups of
all persuasions constitute an ominous impediment, certain to thwart
the best intentions and efforts aimed at fostering a peaceful
environment, economic recovery and political renewal."

CARICOM'S COMMITMENT ? Foreign Affairs Minister Fred Mitchell, right,
with Haiti's President-Elect Rene Preval at the United Nations
yesterday. During an open debate at the UN's Security Council, Mr.
Mitchell said CARICOM's contributions to helping Haiti overcome its
difficulties "will be constrained only by its lack of resources and
not by a shortage of political will."
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