| Jun 15, 2023

‘Kingston Talks’ leaves Haitian politicians disappointed

/ Our Today

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Dialogue would continue soon in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince

Haitian opposition politician Michel Andre. (Valerio Saint-Louis/VOA Creole)

Durrant Pate/Contributor

Ashamed and a deception is how one Haitian politician who attended a three-day meeting in Jamaica to discuss possible solutions for Haiti’s political crisis, described the outcome.

Others expressed disappointment in the gathering and discussions, called the Kingston Talks, which took place at the Jamaican Foreign Ministry headquarters in downtown Kingston, which were closed to the press. They say the much-heralded Kingston Talks failed to produce some hoped-for results.

“I’m ashamed. It’s a deception, in my view, to be going back home (like this). I came here certain that we’d find a solution,” is what former Haitian lawmaker, Antoine Arondon Bien-Aime told VOA about the meeting hosted by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which ended late Tuesday.

The meeting was hosted by CARICOM’s Eminent Persons Group, which includes former Bahamas Prime Minister, Perry Christie; former Jamaican Prime Minister, Bruce Golding and former St. Lucia Prime Minister, Kenny Anthony. Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry and Foreign Minister, Jean-Victor Geneus also participated.

Sticking point in the talks

Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, minister of foreign affairs

Raphael Andre of the Patriotic Movement of the Democratic Opposition party, known as MOPOD, told VOA the major point of contention was who should lead Haiti. According to him, “The group was examining the best formula for a solution. They wanted to adhere to the constitution, which says we must have a president, a prime minister and a Cabinet of ministers governing the country.”

The opposing sides insisted on a single executive led by a President. “So there was no agreement,” Raphael Andre said. In his first public comment about the Jamaica gathering, Prime Minister Henry said on Twitter yesterday that the dialogue would continue soon in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince with the participation of more political actors and stakeholders, including the High Council of Transition (HCT).

“The group of Eminent Personalities remain mobilized and should be coming to Port-au-Prince soon to meet the HCT and a larger group of Haitian actors who could not be in Jamaica to continue their facilitation,” Henry tweeted. Since the assassination of Haitian President, Jovenel Moise in July 2021, the country has been in the throes of political and economic crises. 

CARICOM team to travel to Haiti

Haiti has been without any elected representatives since early January, and last held a presidential vote in 2016. A CARICOM team plans to travel to Haiti for further discussions with an even wider group of stakeholders and to build on those areas of agreement that would have emerged from the Kingston talks.

Haitian opposition politician Michel Andre, who is no relation to Raphael Andre, praised Henry’s participation in the discussions. For him, “Prime Minister Ariel Henry made an extraordinary effort and proposed a very clear consensus — he proposed an inclusive national unity government — so to construct a government that can reassure everyone, all political sectors. He took a huge risk (doing so) because he did that without even speaking to the other signatories of the December 21 Accord.” 

The December 21 Accord is an agreement between Henry and a coalition of opposition politicians, civil society and members of the business sector that establishes the framework for a transitional government that would organize elections. Henry also agreed to add two additional members to Haiti’s High Council of Transition, which has been charged with ensuring that long-awaited general elections are held.

Positive spin on Kingston Talks

However, former Haitian lawmaker Edmonde Beauzile had a positive outlook on the Kingston Talks saying, “I think this (discussion) in Jamaica was a positive thing. But I regret that we Haitians are restarting the dialogue process in Jamaica.”

Beauzile told VOA that since many political groups were not represented at the meeting, it was difficult to agree to the proposals. In April, the United Nations released a report in which it estimated that gangs control up to 80 per cent of Port-au-Prince. 

It also reported that 840 people were killed from January to March 31 of this year, an increase of more than 20 per cent compared with the last quarter of 2022, and 637 kidnappings have been reported so far this year, an increase of 63 per cent compared with the last three months of 2022.


What To Read Next