Browne: Caricom mission to Haiti but premature to talk of troops

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Prime Minister of Grenada Dickon Mitchell, left to right, President of Guyana Irfaan Ali, Prime Minister of Haiti Ariel Henry and Prime Minister of Jamaica Andrew Holness take part in the opening ceremony of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community in Nassau, Bahamas, on February 15. AP Photo –

Caricom will send a special mission to unrest-hit Haiti to talk to all sides, but it was premature to talk about sending troops, Minister of Foreign and Caricom Affairs Dr Amery Browne said, addressing a post-Cabinet briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s on Thursday.

He said this had been decided at last week’s 44th Regular Meeting of Caricom Heads of Government in The Bahamas.

“A key decision taken by our heads of government in The Bahamas was the decision to launch a special mission to Haiti to have preliminary meetings with a number of key stakeholders.” Saying the mission was due for Monday (February 27), he said Trinidad and Tobago will participate in the person of former minister of foreign and Caricom affairs, Denis Moses, whom he said was TT’s high commissioner to Canada and who was fluent in French and somewhat experienced with Haitian stakeholders, plus a member of the defence force (TTDF).

“This special team will be staged in The Bahamas and will then be conveyed from The Bahamas to Haiti by the Bahamaian Defence Force.”

He said Canadians would also participate in what was a Caricom-Canada mission to meet Haitian stakeholders, the latter who might also participate in a follow-up meeting in Jamaica. Browne said the mission’s goal was to treat with the situation in Haiti as soon as possible.

Asked about Jamaica’s offer to send soldiers to Haiti, Browne added, “I’d say with all due respect that the issue of troops and boots on the ground at this stage is a little bit premature.” He said Haitian Interim Prime Minister Henry had participated in talks at the Caricom heads meeting.

“What the region is clear on is that the solution to the crisis has to be Haitian-led. Those of us from the periphery who might be calling for troops to go in and so forth, it’s a little bit premature of us to get to that stage. That is (just) one of the areas that will be discussed during these stakeholder consultation and we’ll see where those discussions go.

“It really would be to get the Government of Haiti as it currently stands, the national police service of Haiti, the opposition elements and other key stakeholders to the table and analyse what would be the most prudent next steps.”

On another foreign policy issue, on the one year anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Browne said TT’s position on the matter was crystal clear, in line with long-standing principles expressed at the UN and OAS. “We’ve been part of a broad coalition that has expressed the need for this war to come to an end in the soonest possible time. We have called for the withdrawal of Russian forces from within the borders of Ukraine.

“We have called for an end to the humanitarian crisis that is not limited to that country but affects us in the Caricom region as well.”

Amid all this, he said, TT has maintained excellent relationships with parties such as China, the Us and the European Union.