February 19, 2004 - Financial Times: Washington responds to action calls over Haiti

Peace Corps Online: Directory: Haiti: Special Report: February, 2004: Haiti Peace Corps Information Center: February 19, 2004 - Financial Times: Washington responds to action calls over Haiti

By Admin1 (admin) (pool-141-157-42-145.balt.east.verizon.net - on Thursday, February 19, 2004 - 4:30 pm: Edit Post

Washington responds to action calls over Haiti

Washington responds to action calls over Haiti

Washington responds to action calls over Haiti

Caption: Haitian armed rebels run during a march into the city of Gonaives, Haiti, February 19, 2004, which was taken over by an armed gang opposed to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The United States said on Thursday it was open to Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide stepping down, the first time it has publicly acknowledged his departure could be a way out of crisis. Around 50 people have been killed in the armed revolt in the poorest country in the Americas, where incomes average a dollar a day. REUTERS/Daniel Aguilar

Washington responds to action calls over Haiti

29 minutes ago

By Guy Dinmore in Washington and Richard Lapper in New York

The US on Thursday said it would send a small military delegation to Haiti, as the security situation in the rebellion-torn Caribbean country continued to deteriorate.

The Pentagon (news - web sites) said the US military team would consist of three or four experts from Southern Command, which oversees the Caribbean. The move comes at the request of James Foley, the US ambassador to Haiti.

The despatch of a US team may herald a shift in tone from the previous US position, which held that a military or police intervention was not the right solution to Haiti's political crisis. Colin Powell (news - web sites), US secretary of state, reiterated this position earlier this week but said the US would stand by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in political negotiations.

The Organisation of American States was set on Thursday to discuss security assistance for Haiti's police force, whose poorly trained and ill-equipped units have been besieged by rebels in the town of Cap-Haitien.

Some 60 people have been killed since the rebellion began on February 5. The Associated Press reported that pro-government militants were manning barricades to protect Cap-Haitien, but police were taking refuge in their stations.

Rebels holding the north-western city of Gonaives said their movement would henceforth be called the National Resistance Front to Liberate Haiti, and would answer to one commander - Guy Philippe, a former police chief accused of planning a 2001 attack on Haiti's National Palace. Mr Philippe has returned from exile and is believed to have crossed the border from the Dominican Republic.

The US is stressing that due constitutional process must be followed in Haiti. But Mr Powell's comments reinforced a widespread impression in the region that the US no longer wholeheartedly supports Mr Aristide, whom the Clinton administration restored to power in 1994 by dispatching 20,000 US troops.

Mr Powell told ABC television that the US was working with the international community on a plan that would be presented to Mr Aristide and the political opposition. If a political solution were found, an international police force could be sent to Haiti, he added.

"In many cases it's just a few thugs that are dominating a particular town or city, and so what we have to try to do now is stand with President Aristide - he is the elected president of Haiti - and do what we can to help him," Mr Powell said.

The plan did not provide for Mr Aristide to step down, Mr Powell said, but he added: "You know, if an agreement is reached that moves that in another direction, that's fine." The US was not encouraging him to step down. Mr Aristide has already said he intends to see out his term, which ends in February 2006. His government's democratic credentials have been tarnished by allegations of fraud in a legislative election in 2000.

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Story Source: Financial Times

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; COS - Haiti; Safety and Security of Volunteers



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