By Robenson Geffrard, Le Nouvelliste, Nov. 21, 2023
The CARICOM Eminent Persons Group (EPG) has decided not to dismiss its three missions to Haiti in recent months, aimed at encouraging politicians to reach a political agreement, as a failure. Instead, it commented on the "zero-sum" approach used by the political players at the various meetings. In a position paper published on Tuesday November 21, around a week after their last visit to the country, the CARICOM emissaries announced that they would be submitting a draft framework agreement.
"Haiti continues to suffer. The cycle of depredation and armed gang violence continues, spreading to new areas and adding to the already high number of victims. The political actors, fully aware of this terrible reality, continue their zero-sum approach to efforts to reach an agreement that would end the prolonged political impasse, paving the way for the resolution of the other facets of the crisis", write the EPG.
"The CARICOM Eminent Persons Group made its third visit to Haiti between November 8 and 14, 2023. It was initially encouraged by the prospects raised by reports that provisional agreement had been reached on some critical points of convergence following concessions made by Prime Minister Henry in informal discussions. These discussions, led by a facilitator, had taken place during the absence of the EPG", they reported.
In their statement, the EPG explained that they had sought to build on these points of agreement with regard to transitional governance arrangements for free and fair elections. "These points included broadening and strengthening the attributes of the High Transitional Council to provide a better balance of executive power, the composition of the Provisional Electoral Council, the designation of a body to oversee government action, and the establishment of an inclusive government of national unity".
"It was immediately evident during the EPG discussions that the previous intransigent position of certain sections of the opposition group insisting on the Prime Minister's resignation as a precondition for meaningful discussions still prevailed. The governance concessions the Prime Minister was prepared to make were dismissed as an effort to prolong his mandate", the EPG statement explained.
"Based on the stakeholders' encouraging responses to a proposal made by the EPG during the engagements, the Group will provide for their consideration a draft framework of agreement that will take into account the points they raised during these engagements," they concluded.
The third mission of CARICOM's Eminent Persons to Haiti had not had the desired effect. After a week of meetings with the various political and civil society players, the CARICOM delegation was unable to convince them of the need to reach an agreement. The protagonists were unable to rise above their party interests to agree on how to get the country out of the crisis.
Each side stuck to its position and blamed the failure of this latest attempt by CARICOM's delegation on the other side. Between the demand for Prime Minister Ariel Henry's resignation and a counter-proposal to broaden and give more powers to the Haut Conseil de Transition (HCT), the CARICOM emissaries left empty-handed, leaving the crisis without a solution.
Another missed opportunity for political and civil society players to agree on the future of the country, which is sinking deeper into chaos by the day.
Translated by CHIP editors
Posted Dec. 8, 2023