Aristide, leaders work to ease crisis



PORT-AU-PRINCE — (AP) — Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide met with the Bahamas‘ prime minister Sunday and agreed to several proposals by Caribbean leaders for easing the country’s political crisis.

Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie led a small delegation from the 15-member Caribbean Community on a one-day visit in an effort to break an impasse that has plunged the country into increasing turmoil.

Aristide said he ”shared” the major points put forward by Christie, including the need to build a ”consensus” government, set up an electoral council, schedule legislative elections soon and disarm politically affiliated gangs.

”I’m looking forward to the implementation of the major steps” in the near future, Christie said after more than two hours of talks.

Aristide said he would support forming a new governing council including members of his party, the opposition and civil society leaders.

But opposition leaders have refused to participate in new elections under Aristide or to negotiate with him. They have called for protests, and in the past four months at least 47 people have been killed during demonstrations.

The meeting came after Christie and other leaders hosted talks with the opposition in the Bahamas last week.

”Our concern is to ensure opposing factions are able to recognize that, in Haiti‘s best interests, we must avoid civil strife,” Christie said.