Rice seeks assurances from Haiti election process
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) – US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice has said the country’s upcoming elections could be a turning point after months of violence and unrest.
Rice went by helicopter to the presidential palace for separate meetings with Haiti’s interim leadership, led by President Boniface Alexandre and Prime Minister Gerard Latortue.
Dr. Rice, speaking during a brief visit to Haiti, called on the Haitian authorities to do more to prepare for the elections, which she said needed to be inclusive and fair.
“The people of Haiti of course have a long road ahead of them to prosperity and democracy, but the elections that they are about to hold can be a very important, vital and crucial step along that road,” she said.
She also urged the Haitian people to register to vote: so far just half of the country’s electorate has done so.
The US Secretary of State said that in a country ruined by violence from the gun, the people of Haiti had no more powerful weapon than the power to vote.
“If I may, I would just like to say a word to the Haitian people. I know that many of you have registered to vote. I hope that when the day comes you will exercise that vote. To those of you who have not registered, please go and register, and reclaim your right to choose a democratic leader for Haiti.”
Legislative and presidential elections in the Caribbean state are being held in November.
Interim prime minister Gerard La-tortue said his government shared the same concerns as the United States and was working hard to rectify any problems.
He said his government was committed to having a government in Feb-ruary 2006, as mandated by the constitution.
The elections will be the first since the overthrow of its first democratically elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, eighteen months ago.
Human rights groups say violence and politically-motivated detentions are continuing, despite the presence of 7,000 peacekeepers.
President Jagdeo gets top post in IMF/World Bank
GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) – President Bharrat Jagdeo has become the first Caribbean head of state to be named Chairman of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The Government Information Agency (GINA) said that the Governors of the World Bank and IMF made Jagdeo’s selection for the year 2006, at a plenary session of the institutions’ annual meeting held in Washington on Sunday. It said his term begins immediately.
In functioning in the capacity as chairman, Jagdeo will chair a number of meetings of the World Bank/IMF including the meetings of the Joint Pro-cedures Committee and the Multi-lateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) Procedures Committee.
In addition, he will chair a meeting of the Joint Remuneration Committee for executive directors.
More than 3,000 delegates are expected to attend the World Bank and the IMF annual meeting later this week.
Fearful residents flee Mountain View Avenue
KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) – Three persons, including a three-month-old baby, were shot and killed in the latest flare-up of gang violence in the vola-tile Mountain View Avenue in the corporate area of Jamaica’s capital, King-ston.
Police said that the latest attacks took place on Monday night when gunmen opened fire on a man, a woman and the baby.
But while the man managed to escape, two women and the child were hit.
Shortly afterwards, a house was fire bombed and the flames quickly spread destroying at least five other homes. Fire fighters were unable to deal with the blaze because of the barrage of gun-shots in the area.
Residents from two sections of Moun-tain View Avenue have been blaming each other for the latest round of violence saying that politics is at the root of the present feud.
Police have set up a strong presence in the area and the Head of the King-ston Eastern Police Division, Superin-tendent Doric Sinclair, is calling on residents to provide them with information on criminal activities in the area.
Member of Parliament for the constituency of South East St. Andrew, which includes Mountain View Avenue, Maxine Henry-Wilson, said efforts to bring about long-term peace in the area were being thwarted by criminal elements targeting persons based on their political beliefs.
She said several meetings aimed at ending strife in sections of Mountain View Avenue have been held in recent weeks.
“We were to go back and see how we could implement some of the suggestions made. A lot of work is going on there, but the attempt at cleansing is something that we don’t see as a positive in terms of how the community will go forward,” she said.
So far this year, 1, 244 persons have been murdered in Jamaica.
Caribbean export to launch initiative in October
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (AP) – Caribbean Export is preparing to launch a major program this October, targeted at regional private sector companies and which seeks to bolster regional competitiveness on the international stage, a top official of the Barbados-based export promotions agency has said.
Financed by the European Union, the project will provide 30.4 million euros to the Caribbean to increase its competitiveness.
Executive Director of Caribbean Ex-port Taiana Mora-Ramis said the project will also seek to strengthen linkages between the various export sectors.
“I think that before we were very focused on agriculture, craft, etc. Now you have to think of how the sectors interlink and especially the services sector. We will focus a lot in the coming years on developing the service sectors and the linkages with the traditional sectors.
The Caribbean Gift and Craft Show brought together over 200 buyers and the same number of sellers from across the English, French and Spanish speak-ing Caribbean.
Over 200 exhibitors from 31 countries across the Caribbean had their creations on show at the Sherbourne Conference Center, just outside Bridge-town.
The event was also very heavily patronized by locals and visitors alike, who took advantage of the wide variety of products on display.
Exhibitors and organizers said they were generally pleased with the results.
T&TEC urged consumers to save energy
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad (AP) – The Trinidad & Tobago Electricity Commission (T&TEC) has appealed to consumers to conserve energy “in whatever way possible” or the country could be plunged into darkness as a result of a broken gas line.
The problem on the line, which originated from a main feed off the Beachfield line, south of here, resulted in the reduction in gas pressure to generating units.
“As a consequence of this, T&TEC appeals to all customers, domestic, commercial, industrial and street light-ing to immediately organize to reduce demand for electricity by conserving energy in whatever way possible, and therefore collectively contributing to conservation of the electricity supply.”