Fri | Apr 19, 2024

CARICOM leaders open four-day summit on Sunday

Published:Sunday | February 25, 2024 | 1:06 PM
CARICOM Eminent Persons Group - CMC photo

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC -CARICOM leaders will begin their 46th summit in Guyana later on Sunday hoping to further advance a number of issues ranging from the ongoing socio-economic and political situation in Haiti to advancing the CARICOM agri-food systems agenda, while prioritising regional food and nutrition security.

Prior to the ceremonial opening on Sunday, scheduled for 5 p.m. (local time),  the regional leaders met with the Eminent Person Group (EPG) headed by former St Lucian prime minister Dr Kenny Anthony regarding the situation in Haiti.

Following their  last visit to Haiti last December, the EPG team, which also includes former Jamaican prime minister, Bruce Golding, and former Bahamian prime minister, Perry Christie, had indicated that consensus had been reached on several aspects of the draft framework agreement intended to provide a transitional governance arrangement to take the troubled French-speaking CARICOM country to free and fair elections.

The EPG members had held discussions with the various stakeholders with a view to finding a political compromise aimed at stabilising the country and promoting a democratic transition.

In its statement issued following their latest visit, the EPG said the negotiations, attended by representatives of a broad cross section of political and civil society Stakeholders, including Prime Minister Ariel Henry, “provided an opportunity for narrowing of differences on the details of the transitional governance arrangement.

“The draft framework agreement that formed the basis of the negotiations was prepared by the EPG and reflected the contributions of all the Stakeholders over more than five months of consultations.

“The stakeholders achieved consensus on several aspects of the draft framework and have agreed to continue discussions between themselves in the absence of the EPG on the key areas of the balance of power and representation within the proposed transitional arrangements,” the statement said.

When the summit formally gets underway on Monday, the situation in Haiti will be among the opening agenda items with the EPG as well as Jamaica addressing the meeting.

In addition, representatives from Canada, the Dominican Republic, France, the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Nations, will also be allowed to address the summit.

On Monday, the regional leaders will also receive an update from the Prime Ministerial Sub-Committee (PMSC) on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME), which allows for the free movement of goods, skills, labour and services across the 15-member regional integration movement.

The report on the work of the Reconstituted Inter-Governmental Task Force (IGTF) with special emphasis on the implementation of the decision of the regional leaders to work towards free movement of all CARICOM nationals will be tabled.

Developments in regional transportation with an update on the status of work on the “CARICOM Maritime Shipping Solution”, climate change and climate financing, as well as the an update on the Fourth International Conference on Small Island Developing State (SIDS) to be held in Antigua and Barbuda from May 27-30 are also included on the agenda for Monday.

The leaders will go into caucus on Monday to discuss security issues, as well as receive an update on the situation in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).

In January, the leaders of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) expressed their “alarming concern” at the current situation in the BVI where the former Governor of that British Overseas Territory, John Rankin, was reported to be moving towards implementing the recommendations of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) for governance reform.

The OECS groups the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Kitts and Nevis, Montserrat, Anguilla and the BVI.

In a statement, the leaders said that they had noted “the request by the Governor for additional powers which will allow him to bypass the Territorial Government, and implement unilaterally, the recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry (COI) for governance reforms in the BVI”.

They said they condemn “strongly any efforts to undermine the legitimate Government of the BVI and expressed solidarity with the Government and people of the BVI in the undertaking of the process for reforms.”

Rankin, who was replaced by Daniel Pruce at the end of January, said he would continue to “ work hard” and “with determination and resolve together, the reforms which the people of the Virgin Islands want and deserve”.

He said the COI made 49 recommendations to help resolve these issues and place the BVI on a better path to good governance.

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