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Wednesday, May 24, 2006 

23 May, 2006 - Published 20:25 GMT

Where's Caricom, asks former envoy

The Haitian and Dominican Republic leaders

met soon after Haitian elections.

Reginald Dumas, a Trinidadian former adviser on Haiti to the United Nations, has criticised what he sees as Caricom's failure to meet and talk with new president Rene Preval since his election in February.

"This is amazing", ambassador Dumas told BBC Caribbean, "they should have re-engaged already. The longer they wait, the more marginalised they become. I've been disappointed, frankly".

Caricom countries had questioned the way in which former president Jean Bertrand Aristide left office in February 2004 at the height of violent demonstrations.

Mr Aristide said he was virtually kidnapped by US troops and hustled out of the country: Washington said he left under American protection.

"Should have re-engaged"

Most of Haiti's fellow members of Caricom had refused to do business with the government of Gerard Latortue, installed by the US and France as interim prime minister.

But Reginald Dumas said they should have re-engaged with Haiti before Rene Preval's inauguration a week and a half ago.

"What's important in Haiti above all is the welfare of the Haitian people".

"Caricom spent too much time talking about the need for free and fair elections and how Aristide left, and not enough time talking about what they could do to assist the people".

Meanwhile at a meeting in Brazil to discuss whether to resume aid to Haiti, the Brazilian foreign minister Celso Amorim said Haiti had done its part by holding a free and fair election, and Haitians now need international help to seize the chance to rebuild.

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