Dr Elliston Rahming (right), Bahamas Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) and Chair of the OAS Permanent Council, is pictured with Haiti’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Pierrot Delienne following the special meeting of the OAS Permanent Council on Wednesday, July 20
WASHINGTON, USA -- In response to a request from the government of Haiti, Dr Elliston Rahming, Bahamas ambassador and permanent representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) and chair of the OAS Permanent Council, convened a special meeting of the Permanent Council on Wednesday at the OAS headquarters.
Haiti requested the meeting so that its minister of foreign affairs Pierrot Delienne could provide the OAS with “a better understanding of the evolving political and electoral situation” in his country.
The request came in the wake of a statement on July 15 by OAS Secretary General Luis Almagro expressing deep concern over the demonstrated inability of Haitian parliamentarians to meet in the National Assembly to decide on how best to guarantee institutional stability and encourage the continuation of the electoral process.
“Given the importance of the challenges and the serious risks to the country’s stability, it is particularly troubling that the meeting of the National Assembly set for yesterday, July 14, was cancelled, once again, due to a failure to reach quorum,” Almagro said in his statement
“Haiti can no longer afford to be the hostage of dilatory tactics and other ploys,” the OAS secretary general added. “The situation is critical. It is time to make a decision that should have been made long ago. It is imperative for Haitian political stakeholders, including Parliamentarians and those provisionally governing the country, to fully assume their responsibilities towards the nation. The interests of the Haitian people must supersede partisan interests. Every effort should be made for the presidential, legislative and local elections to be held without delay and in a calm atmosphere.”
In his 17-plus minutes address at Wednesday’s special meeting, Delienne highlighted the “significant progress that has been made” and the “tangible results” that have been achieved, noting that the process for an election is now solidly on track.
Among other things, he revealed that there are 27 presidential candidates representing all the major parties and an election date has been set for October 9, 2016, with a second round of voting set for January 8, 2017, if necessary. He said the Electoral Council “is doing all it can to stick to the timetable.”
Ambassadors and permanent representatives to the OAS from the various member states took turn welcoming the Haitian foreign minister and expressing support for the democratic process in Haiti.
With Rahming, Dr Eugene Newry, Bahamas ambassador to the United States and alternate permanent representative to the OAS, spoke on behalf of The Bahamas.
Newry thanked Delienne “for his explanation, clarification and announcement concerning the projected elections later this year.”
He noted that The Bahamas, for its size, is the country in the world with the largest percent of its population of Haiti origin, some 20 percent, adding that “some of our most distinguished citizens are of Haitian origin.”
“We Bahamians have daily commerce with our neighbor,” Newry said. “One must pose the question as to the root causes of the political instability. Among the principal of these is Haiti being economically the country with the greatest amount of natural resources of any country in the region and therein lies, in part, it being manipulated, resulting in political instability.”
It is in the region’s interests, Newry said, that the “Organization of American States use all of its instances and agencies to come to the aid of our sister Caribbean country and founding member state. The Bahamas associates itself with these goals.”
Sir Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda ambassador to the United States and permanent representative to the OAS, also welcomed the Haitian foreign minister and said he was pleased to hear from Delienne that the process for elections is now solidly on track.
Sanders, who led a special OAS mission to Haiti in February, called on all the members of the National Assembly to assume their responsibilities and duties to the people of Haiti by holding a meeting swiftly either to extend the term of the current interim president or by electing a new interim president.
“The present impasse is unacceptable,” he added.