KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent (CMC) — St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, on Monday, said he is not optimistic that elections would be held in Haiti in September as the region continues to react to the assassination of President Jovenel Moise last week.
“You would not want to have an election with only 60% of the electorate registered and with gangs still roaming and if you have 15% turn out, people not feeling safe going to the polls … and the winner gets under 10% of the electorate. I mean you are only adding to the existing problem,” Gonsalves said.
Speaking on the state-owned NBC Radio, Gonsalves said that SVG, as the only Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country elected to serve on the United Nations Security Council, is ensuring that the welfare of Haitians are taken into consideration in the post-Moise era, given that Port-au-Prince has since asked the UN for assistance in maintaining law and order.
“Haiti has requested international support to investigate the assassination of President Jovenel Moise and also in matters of security. Haiti must specify exactly what it is looking for,” said Helen La Lime, Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations and Head of the United Nations Integrated Office in Haiti (BINUH).
The UN Security Council would have to approve any plan to send international troops to Haiti under UN auspices.
La Lime said the prime minister, who now leads the government, in line with the country’s constitution in the event of a sitting president’s death, was committed “to dialogue, and to continuing with a process to hold elections according to the electoral calendar that was released just last week”.
She said that would mean a first round of elections on Sept. 26, with a second round set for November.
Gonsalves also disclosed that CARICOM Bureau, comprising the leaders of Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago and Belize, is also due to meet this week to discuss the ongoing situation in Haiti, where at least three people, including the President of the Senate, Joseph Lambert, are claiming to be the legitimate person to run the affairs in the French-speaking CARICOM country.
He told radio listeners holding fresh elections “has to be done in a way which makes the elections credible”.
Gonsalves repeated a statement made by Kingstown’s UN Security representative, Inga Rhonda King, in which she indicated that “our Caribbean Community remains willing to play a leading role in facilitating the process of national dialogue and negotiations to help the Haitian people and their institution to craft an indigenous long term solution to the crisis and ongoing challenges.
“The Haitian people have to solve the problems themselves,” Gonsalves said, adding that the challenges that have come out of this “extraordinary difficulties” would require external assistance.
“They are members of CARICOM and we have to make sure that for one of our members we do the best that we can …and we have been running democratic elections for a long, long time, and we have been doing so successfully in producing free and fair elections and producing results reflective of the people’”.
Gonslaves said that elections in the Caribbean have also resulted in opposition parties winning all seats in the Parliament as in the cases of Grenada and Barbados “and in our own case (St. Vincent and the Grenadians) we have had free and fair elections since independence…”
Gonsalves said he held discussions with the CARICOM Secretary General, Irwin LaRocque on Sunday night “about certain matters”.
He said Prime Minister Gaston Browne is the current chairman of the 15-member grouping “and we are trying to see if an emergency heads of government meeting’ can be held.
“We have put down some markers … because there is going to be a meeting of the CARICOM Bureau…(and ) given the fact that we are at the Security Council and I have already indicated that if there is going to be a Bureau Council meeting, I would like to participate because Security Council is going to be very critical in this regard.
“You know Haiti has already made certain kinds of request to the international community … and we have to be careful we don’t develop Haiti fatigue because this is a member of our Caribbean Community and Haiti holds a particular symbolic significance in the history of anti-slavery struggles…” Gonsalves said.