From Sat Mar 20 10:45:06 2004
Date: Sat, 20 Mar 2004 09:08:26 -0600 (CST)
From: Bob Corbett <>
To: Haiti mailing list <>
Subject: 20610: Esser: Former president endorses Haiti's government (fwd)

From: D. Esser

Former president endorses Haiti's government

BBC News, 18 March 2004

A former Haitian president has backed Haiti's new interim government as controversy continues over the appointment of the 13-member non-political government.

Leslie Manigat, who served as president of Haiti for four months in 1988, told BBC Caribbean Service the decision to omit political parties could be a positive move.

There is an opportunity for an opening in the country so therefore I think every patriot should consider that this opening is a step forward within the cabinet there are some three or four people who are really competent, Mr Manigat said.

Gerard Latortue, the new interim prime minister of Haiti served as foreign minister under Mr Manigat.

Opposition leaders and members of the former ruling Lavalas party have complained that the cabinet excludes them.

It leaves out established politicians and anyone linked to the exiled former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson, who is controversially hosting Mr Aristide, has refused to recognise the new government until Caricom votes on the issue at a summit on 25 March.

International backing

Speaking at the swearing in ceremony for the new government on Wednesday Prime Minister Latortue said his choice was non-partisan and would be judged on its achievements.

The interim government is meant to steer Haiti to legislative elections within eight months—and could remain in power for up to two years.

In a statement, the French foreign ministry hailed the swearing-in of the transitional administration saying it was the important first step towards the country's recovery.

The French government also pledged to help raise international aid for the violence-wracked country over the long term.

The US has also complimented Mr Latortue on his cabinet.

James Foley, the US Ambassador to Haiti, said the new prime minister chose wisely and that Haiti could expect significant US and international aid as it progresses from what was a virtual state of anarchy.

Peter Hakim, president of the non-aligned Inter American Dialogue group on political affairs told BBC Caribbean Service he had no doubt about America's role surrounding the new government.

Haitian politics take place in Haiti, in Port-au-Prince, but they also play out in Washington.

Haiti in a real sense depends on aid from Washington, remittances from Haitians living in the US and no serious initiatives from a new government that has been basically installed because of US military force is going to survive without continued consultation with the US, Mr Hakim said.

According to the UN, the country is in dire need of aid. A UN spokeswoman in Port-au-Prince said an appeal for $35 million in emergency aid has only produced $8.2 million in pledges so far.


Meanwhile, fallout from the diplomatic row over Mr Aristide's presence in Jamaica continues.

In a statement on Thursday, the ousted president said Jamaica had ‘nothing to fear’ from his visit.

Mr Aristide's presence in Kingston has been criticised by the new Haitian government which has frozen relations with Jamaica and suspended its Caricom membership over the issue.

Contributing to the controversy over the issue, Barbados Foreign Minister Billie Miller told parliament on Wednesday she had only been informed of the decision to host Mr Aristide for a two-month visit, after it had been decided.

According to one Jamaican newspaper, government sources in Kingston said Mr Patterson's statement announcing the visit, had not claimed prior consultation but said Jamaica's decision had been communicated to Caricom colleagues.

In an interview published on Tuesday, Mr Aristide repeated his claim that the US removed him in a coup d'etat.

In another development, Mr Latortue said on Thursday the interim government he formed would not restore the armed forces Mr Aristide had disbanded in 1995 after US troops brought him back to power following a military coup.