Wyclef Jean Calls on International Community to Allow Rebel Gunmen to be a Part of Haitian Negotiations

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti’s international music star, Wyclef Jean, has called on national and international actors to allow rebel gunmen to be part of negotiations aimed at finding a solution to the Caribbean country’s unprecedented political gridlock.

jeanwyclHaiti’s Grammy Award singer, Wyclef Jean (File Photo)The United States Thursday said that it backed the position outlined by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping following the high level meeting on Haiti in Jamaica on Monday and wanted “to see an interim prime minister appointed as soon as possible”.

In an interview with the Port au Prince-based Haitian-Caribbean News Network, a partner of the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC), Jean, said the gunmen, who have had a high profile in Haiti in recent months, should be included in the current political negotiations, in the prospect of solving the security crisis.

“Whether people like it or not, I am saying the men of arms should be part of the overhaul negotiations, and It’s very important!”, Jean, the Grammy Award singer said, urging all stakeholders to join in facilitating the return of peace and security to Haiti.

“All should be on the table, because this is not a dictatorship. I’d never support any form of dictatorship or any form of a radical one person taking over Haiti; never and never,” Jean said, warning stakeholders against further deterioration of the security situation.

He said the necessary steps should be taken urgently in order to pave the way towards making significant progress.

Among those whom he believes should have a say in the future of the island, Jean cites the  former rebel leader Guy Philippe, political party leader Claude Joseph, Jean-Charles Moise from the ‘Pitit Desalin’ party as well as representatives of the so-called Montana group.

Jean said that in order for the United States to take Haitians seriously, they have to form a united front now.

“ I ask you to put your differences on the side. Everybody has to be included as part of the future of what’s going on,” Jean said, adding he could understand the frustration of the people with the guns, because those guns were given to them to carry out massacres in the country.

“But they would wake up one day and say ‘gosh the same forces that are telling us to do this, they are not the right forces’. And they are now up against them and they said we are going to topple them through extreme measures.

“But when I look at the situation, “and I go back to Nelson Mandela, I always feel that dialogue is the best situation right now.”

He said in understanding the situation “from a level of being one of those guys that used to be in those poor and populous neighbourhoods, that was an advocate for peace, and that even helped negotiate truce in certain parts of the country, when it was needed at a time.”

Jean, who is among the most popular Haitian internationally, said he maintains his Haitian passport despite his success. He is particularly admired in his homeland.

Media reports said that he had played a significant role in getting a hostage freed without having to pay a ransom because he was able to speak by phone to the abductors.

Meanwhile, the United States said that following Monday’s meetng in  Jamaica, where it was announced that Prime Minister Dr. Ariel Henry, who has been stranded in Puerto Rico since last week, had decided he would be stepping down, several stakeholders “are willing to make  and willing to make compromises to try to restore stability and set the path to free and fair elections.

“And we think that’s appropriate and think that it’s something that all political figures in Haiti should do to try to move past the current crisis,” said US State Department spokesman, Mathew Miller.

He told reporters that it would be a “mistake” to concentrate on what Washington would be doing to bring peace and security to Haiti, insisting “ultimately this is a matter for the Haitian people to decide, and the Haitian people and Haitian leaders need to be front and center in making decisions about their country.

“What we will do is work with Haitian leaders and work with CARICOM leaders and work with our other international partners to do everything we can to offer support for Haitians in making those concessions and trying to get on the path to democracy”.

He said separately but equally, Washington will support the Kenya led Multinational Security Support Mission “because it is critical to restoring security on the ground, and without security it’s going to be very hard, if not impossible, to hold free and fair elections”.

Miller said that while he would not be willing to “discuss hypotheticals and what might happen…” . there were always going to be, this was always going to be a political process that required people to make compromises and people to make concessions.

“As you just heard me say, just in the past few hours we’ve seen a number of names submitted for this presidential transitional council. We want to see it get off the ground as soon as possible. We want to see an interim prime minister appointed as soon as possible,” he added.

On Monday, Guyana’s  President and CARICOM chairman, Dr. Irfaan Ali, told reporters that an agreement had been reached that would allow for Prime Minister Henry to step down and for a transitional governance arrangement “which paves the way for a peaceful transition of power, continuity of governance and action plan for near term security and the road to free and fair elections”..

Ali said that it was also agreed that there would be the creation of a transitional presidential council comprised of seven voting members and two voting observers.

Those with votes include the party headed by Moise, the EDE party of former prime minister Charles Joseph; the Fanmi Lavalas party; the December 21 coalition led by Henry; the Montana Accord group; and members of the private sector.

The non-voting members will be represented by one member from civil society and one member of the interfaith community.