Caribbean Round-Up

Haiti

A special commission has been set up to review the results of Haiti’s presidential election, which have sparked protest, leaving five people dead and several others injured.

The Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) announced that it had ordered a “rapid and exceptional” review of the results against the background of the “clear dissatisfaction” of many voters, protests and violence.

Since the CEP recently announced that former first lady Mirlande Manigat and the candidate for the ruling Inite party, Jude Celestin, would go forward to a January run-off after none of the candidates got a clear majority in the polls, thousands of Haitians – mostly those in support of popular musician Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly who was identified as a frontrunner in unofficial polls – have taken to the streets of the capital and other cities to protest.

They have accused outgoing President Rene Preval and his handpicked successor, Celestin, of rigging the results.

The special commission will verify the tally sheets of votes cast for Manigat, who came out on top in the first round results.

The special commission will include national and international observers and representatives of the three candidates.

Haiti

About 60,000 Haitians have applied for permission to temporarily stay and work in the U.S. while their Caribbean homeland recovers from a devastating earthquake last January, a cholera outbreak and unrest after a disputed presidential election.

The deadline for Haitians to apply for temporary protected status is Jan. 18. Only those who were already in the U.S. illegally when the earthquake struck the impoverished country are eligible.

Temporary protected status allows immigrants from countries experiencing armed conflict or environmental disasters to stay and work in the U.S. for 18 months.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services says 60,158 applications have been processed. Officials say they expect 70,000 to 100,000 Haitians to apply before the deadline.

Jamaica

A six-year-old boy, his mother and uncle were murdered and their bodies burnt after scores of heavily armed men invaded the Bedward Gardens community in August Town, St. Andrew recently.

Police said the men, who were led by Jamaica’s most wanted Christopher “Dog Paw” Linton were engaged in a fierce gun battle with the police before escaping through a riverbed when reinforcement arrived.

Linton, on whose head a $250,000 bounty had been placed, was named along with five other men in connection with the early-morning horror.

The adult victims were identified as Dania Forbes, 31, and taxi operator Marnis Hylton, 49.

After the killings, the men then firebombed the house, burning the bodies of the dead people beyond recognition, police said.

The hunt is continuing for the killers.

Montserrat

Despite concerns of eruptions of the Soufriere Hills volcano earlier this year, Montserrat tourism officials are hoping that visitors will still flock the island for its annual year-end carnival.

Director of Tourism Ernestine Cassell said Montserrat’s annual carnival celebration, Festival, is the highlight event of the year and a major attraction to travelers looking for a unique cultural experience.

“With increased flight options from Montserrat and full ferry service, holidaymakers will have the opportunity to visit our charming island, get a taste of culture and participate in carnival events,” he said.

The British dependency is currently at a level three hazard alert on the five-level scale of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory. However, officials are out to highlight the island’s “resilient and exuberant people” with the winter celebration known as Festival.

The Festival runs from Dec. 4 to Jan. 1, 2011.

Montserrat, hopes to continue to capitalize on the attraction of its southern volcano with tourism officials touting the natural hazard as “the spectacular Soufriere Hills Volcano, a modern day Pompeii in the form of its buried capital city Plymouth.”

St. Vincent

The main opposition in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, New Democratic Party (NDP) says it will use its position in the new parliament to force the Ralph Gonsalves government to call fresh elections within one year.

NDP leader Arnhim Eustace, who has already called for the results of the Dec. 13 general election to be declared null and void said, “one year of constant pressure from the New Democratic Party will bring them down.”

Trinidad

Former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning said he intends to file a motion at the next sitting of parliament (January 2011) that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar be sent to the Privileges Committee for allegedly misleading the House.

His statement came hours after Persad-Bissessar said that she has no intention of answering any questions relating to the Security Intelligence Agency (SIA) since they were matters of national security.

Manning claimed that Persad-Bissessar and her government were not coming clean regarding the SIA and asked if a spy file really existed.

The prime minister had revealed in November the illegal wire-tapping operations of the SIA, which she claimed spied on prominent citizens, including members of parliament, the judiciary, attorneys and journalists.

Manning also called for an independent “fact finding” tribunal, led by a high court judge, to examine the “documents used by the prime minister in her irresponsible statement in parliament on the SIA matter.

Trinidad

The Trinidad and Tobago government has signed a loan agreement for $100 million with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Finance Minister Winston Dookeran said the loan would be used to fund the Public Capital Expenditure Management Program, aimed at ensuring sustained public capital investment.

He was speaking at the recent signing ceremony held at the Ministry of Finance, Eric Williams Financial Complex, in Port of Spain.

He said the loan would be used to modernize the public sector investment management system, improve accountability and transparency in public procurement and enhance public financial management and control systems.

Compiled by Azad Ali

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