President Aristide says “path of peace” is only way to elections

President Jean Bertrand Aristide has announced that he will not stand down, as
opposition members and schoolchildren, with their anti-government
demonstrations, have asked him to do.

The head of state, who was speaking [on 28 November] at the National Palace to
hail the departure of the Taiwanese ambassador, regards the opposition movement
as a coup attempt.

Aristide said that the holding of early elections in 2003 is the only way to
get the country out of the current impasse. The president criticized the
[former] Haitian army, which he holds responsible for the hardships of the
country, because of the coups d’etat which have marked the nation’s history. He
called for peace and dialogue to face up to the current situation and he seemed
confident about the formation of the new Provisional Electoral Council [CEP].
Aristide spoke as follows:

[Aristide – recording, in Creole] Those people who would like to know what
would be better for the country today have their answer: it is peace. We said
that the path of peace is the best way to lead us to complete deliverance. And
the path of peace is the only way. There is dialogue, understanding and wisdom
on that path of peace. Right now, the CEP [Provisional Electoral Council] is
the path of peace which will lead us to elections, because there is no place
for coups d’etat on this path. That is the reason why, to all the people who
are wondering what the best path for the country is, the answer is simple.

It is peace. The answer is clear. It is peace. Only the path of peace can lead
us to that deliverance.

Therefore, I invite all Haitians everywhere to remain calm. Those who have
illegal weapons, the police will have to disarm them. Those who have search
warrants issued for their houses to be searched, then that will be done
according to the law so that these illegal weapons can be taken away.

This is so that no-one will be in possession of illegal weapons to disturb the
peace. Those of you who are crazy for power and who let your desires for a coup
trouble you, you should take it easy. Haitian history has proved that the
Haitian army, which has led us to all the coups d’etat, cannot take us back
again to where we have been.

We are now approaching 2004 and we need all the children of the country,
without distinction, so we may, with the help of that peace, cross over to the
path that leads to elections.

Tomorrow is 29 November. What we are going to see will remind us of what we
experienced on 29 November 1987 in the Rue Vaillant, where the people who did
not want elections to take place for the sake of coups d’etat, those people
then massacred the electors on that street on 29 November.

So, the people who are mourning today feel very angry when they see those same
coup d’etat weapons again. You, the Haitian people, you should be careful so
that you do not experience another 29 November again.

And before we actually got to 29 November 1987, there were shootings in the
Artibonite area. There were shootings in different places in the country. That
is what we feel is going to come now. It is as though all the people who are
afraid of running in elections, their only strength is weapons so they can
intimidate and shed blood and so they can prevent us from finding a peaceful
climate which is capable of leading us to elections, as was the case in 1990
and 1995.