PM Questions Aristide's Resignation
Prime Minister Perry Christie on Tuesday stopped short of saying that circumstances surrounding the resignation of Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide were questionable.
"The Americans are saying they did not force him out," said Mr. Christie, who spoke to reporters at the Nassau International Airport before leaving for Jamaica.
Mr. Christie is expected to return home today after an emergency CARICOM meeting to discuss the future of Haiti and CARICOM's role in that future.
"The Americans are providing all of the documentary evidence, resignation [letter], and their accounts of what took place," the prime minister added. "Aristide is saying that he was forced out. All we know is that at 8pm on Saturday, the Foreign Minister of Jamaica spoke to President Aristide and at that stage he had no intention of leaving.
"Throughout that day and the day before he had declared to me that he had no intention of leaving, he would die first. And so, on the face of it, I suppose we are in a position to presume that certain things took place that might not have been consistent with volunteering to go."
But Mr. Christie said that CARICOM was about seeking the facts.
"We have to sit as group of leaders and discuss these things very frankly, agree on the facts if we can," Mr. Christie said.
Mr. Aristide said in a live interview with CNN Monday night that he was forced out of Haiti, but it was a claim U.S. government officials flatly denied.
"I was told that to avoid bloodshed I'd better leave," Mr. Aristide said.
He said he was forced out of Haiti in a "real coup d'etat" led by the United States.
Mr. Aristide's resignation has brought into question the future of an accord between the Haitian and Bahamian governments that officials expected to sign soon. The agreement would allow Haitians who were in The Bahamas before January 1985 to be regularized.
"We expect that from our point of view business to continue and that for the accord to be signed at some stage in the future," Mr. Christie said, "Now, we put a question mark on it. It was negotiated by President Aristide and not by this new group of leaders. We do not know what will emerge...We do not know the extent to which the larger powers involved are directing what takes place in Haiti."
The prime minister also recognized that The Bahamas is in a delicate position given its role in CARICOM and its close ties to the United States of America. He said the interests of The Bahamas must be taken into consideration "for any final course of action we take."
Mr. Christie added that it is important for The Bahamas to "speak to the truth of what took place, but at the same time always recognize that we do not have the liberty to get on our horse and ride into the west with a sword in the right hand and one in the left hand."
"We have a responsibility to understand how events take place in the world and to always keep in balance what [is in] the best interest of our country," Mr. Christie said.
He said he planned to telephone Mr. Aristide some time between Tuesday and Wednesday, if that were at all possible.
Last reports placed Mr. Aristide in the Central African Republic.
The Islands’ Haitian Situation – Part 1
“For several months I have been contemplating offering my thoughts on the Haitian situation in our country.”