Caribbean News Briefs — December 3-09

DROUGHT

Kingston, Jamaica: The government is describing drought conditions currently affecting sections of the island as a crisis.

The drought, which began developing in late August, has worsened because of the less than expected rainfall in the traditionally rainy months of September and October.

Minister with responsibility for water, Dr. Horace Chang, has formed a drought task force to implement measures to help consumers struggling with daily water lock offs.

Special measures have been instituted to keep critical facilities and customers supplied.

IMMENSE CHALLENGE

Bridgetown, Barbados: Prime Minister David Thompson has told the nation that the current financial crisis is one of the greatest challenges the country has faced in its recent history.

In a recent address, Thompson said the current situation should serve as an impetus for progress.

“I believe that this recession signals the second phase in our struggle for independence,” Thompson said. “I believe that the world will be a different place after this recession.”

Thompson said the challenge facing small island states like Barbados is to become more enterprising, to spot niches in the marketplace and to capitalize on them.

BACKLOG

Bridgetown, Barbados: Local authorities have confirmed receiving 300 applications for amnesty.

Non-Barbadians living on the island whose status needs to be regularized have been targeted by the amnesty, which officially ends in December.

The government says in addition to the new applications, there is a backlog of 6,000 people seeking regular immigrant status and citizenship.

Prime Minister David Thompson says legislative and other efforts are being undertaken to clear the backlog.

OBJECTION

Port-au-Prince, Haiti: The UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti wants local officials to justify a ban on 17 political groups from participating in next year’s legislative council elections.

The mission’s statement follows an announcement from the electoral council saying the groups, including the Lavalas party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, will not be allowed to contest the elections.

Aristide has called the decision an electoral coup d’etat.

The UN Mission has asked that Haitian officials avoid making decisions that might hint at unequal treatment.

It also requested that officials review documents from all parties with equality.

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