OAS sending diplomat to promote dialogue in Haiti
BY MARIKA LYNCH
In another attempt to resolve Haiti's 3-year-old political troubles, the Organization of American States Tuesday said it will send a veteran U.S. ambassador to promote dialogue in the Caribbean nation.
Terence Todman, a career diplomat born in the U.S. Virgin Islands,
will arrive in Port-au-Prince at a critical moment. The country is about
to celebrate its 200th
anniversary of independence, when Haiti became the first free black republic in the world. But the political situation is in disarray: President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's
government and the opposition have been at loggerheads since flawed elections in 2000.
Two-thirds of the congressmen's terms end in January, but the groups can't agree on holding new elections.
The Organization of American States and Aristide worked out a road map to a peaceful solution last September, but the political climate has only deteriorated, and the economy with it. ''[Todman] is going into the teeth of a situation where everybody knows what ought to be done, but nobody wants to do it and accept it,'' OAS Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi said. ``It's time to have somebody who can perhaps build a bipartisan consensus.''
Todman was chosen, Einaudi said, because of his diplomatic background.
He is respected in U.S. Republican circles and also has a strong basis in the United States' Congressional Black Caucus, traditional supporters of Aristide.
During his 41 years in the Foreign Service, Todman served as ambassador to Argentina, Denmark, Spain, Costa Rica, Guinea and the Republic of Chad, along with serving as U.S. assistant secretary of State for Inter-American affairs.
''I'm going down there with an open mind,'' Todman said in a
brief telephone interview. ``Sometimes a fresh eye sees things that those
deeply involved don't.''