By Liz Rahaman

Haiti’s President Rene Preval, who was democratically re-elected to office earlier this year, has pledged to work closely with members of the Caribbean Community.

Preval would like to cement the ties that existed before the 2004 uprising, which saw the removal of former President Jean Bertrand Aristide from office.

He was at the time responding to welcoming remarks from the Community’s leaders during their opening ceremony last Monday.

Speaking through an interpreter Preval said: “Today, after years of unrest, Haiti has been able to find constitutional normality once again; a new political regime has been put in place as a result of the elections in February and April, 2006 and the process will soon be completed with the organisation of municipal and local elections.

I hope that, at the end of my mandate in February 2011, the Republic of Haiti would have taken decisive steps on the long and difficult road of democratic stability and sustainable development.

This stability and continuity must be the fruit of permanent dialogue already engaged between the social, political and economic sectors of our society. The first result of this dialogue was the constitution of a government of large consensus with the participation of all political groups represented in Parliament.

During the next five years of my mandate, I will work my hardest to contribute toward the strengthening of ties between my country and yours and I will work with you for the advent of a Caribbean which will be more brotherly, stronger and more united when faced with mutual challenges.”

In his address, Secretary-General Edwin Carrington, expressed his immense pleasure that Haiti was back to take its place within the councils of the Caribbean Community.

He said the presence of the Haitian President w as an indication that the people of Haiti had chosen to pursue the path of democracy.

“It is also a vindication of the principled position taken by the Caribbean Community on the occasion of the interruption of the democratic process in your country in 2004. We know that the coming months will be crucial to the future development of Haiti,” Carrington said.

Prime Minister Denzil Douglas said that while he missed the quiet and dignified contributions made by Haiti over the years, CARICOM had held fast to its position that no representatives of Haiti, unless legitimized by the people of Haiti, would sit on August body.

“In recent times CARICOM made its position unequivocal to the whole world that we would not treat with regimes other than those, which ref lect the wishes of the people of

Haiti. In particular, we stoutly rejected the manner in which a former elected President was removed from office,” Douglas said. “I look forward to a continuation of this constructive contribution from President Rene Preval who was once here with us.”

Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, reaffirmed her country’s stance to work with the Haitian government to identify and strengthen mutual areas of interests.

She noted the return of Haiti has now restored CARICOM to its full strength and has served as a reaffirmation that democratic traditions of the Caribbean are entrenched in the political fabric of the Community.

“We must now l ook ahead to a future with Haiti taking its rightful place in CARICOM. We look forward to the day when Haiti will become a full participant in the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME),” Miller said.

It was under Preval’s first term in office in 1997 that Haiti obtained membership to the then 14-member Community.