Originally: U.S. Gives Haiti ‘Weeks’ to Show Good Will

U.S. Gives Haiti ‘Weeks’ to Show Good Will

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Monday gave the government of Haiti “weeks not months” to show whether it has the will to restore confidence in the security situation and the electoral process, a senior official said on Monday.

But the United States will not impose political sanctions on the Haitian government without support from Haiti’s neighbors in the Caribbean, Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega told an event at a Washington think tank.

The United States helped bring Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide back to power in 1994 but it has grown increasingly disillusioned with the way he has run the country, especially after the disputed election of May 2000.

The United States has worked with the Organization of American States in an attempt to persuade the Aristide government to meet the organization’s demands on democracy.

The latest step was a decision to send former U.S. diplomat Terence Todman as OAS envoy to promote dialogue between the government and the opposition in Haiti.

Noriega, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said : “We are going the extra mile now trying to hold the government accountable to make small steps toward restoring confidence in the security situation in Haiti so that people will feel free and comfortable and safe in re-engaging in some sort of an electoral process.

“We will measure whether or not the Haitian government has the political will to make those small meaningful steps in a matter of weeks not months.”

“We cannot move forward … to sanction the Haitian government … under the Inter-American Democratic Charter unless countries in the region, particularly in the Caribbean, are prepared to join us. We want to make our decisions on this issue in concert with our friends. We do not want to take unilateral measures,” he added.

He said that any sanctions would be political rather than economic but did not suggest what they might be.

The democratic charter, signed in Lima in 2001, would enable the organization to suspend the membership of a country in which the democratic order is seriously impaired.

Noriega complained that even since Todman began his mission in Haiti last month, the United States had noticed cases of the Haitian police suppressing political expression.

“That’s not a very auspicious sign,” he said.