World – Reuters
nations will meet with Haitian opposition leaders next week to try to
foreign minister said on Thursday.
“We are hoping that we will be able to persuade the opposition to
shift from their very hard-line stance, namely that President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide must go before anything moves forward again in
Wednesday with the prime ministers of the
Community regional bloc, which recently sent a fact-finding mission
Several people have been killed in recent months when increasingly
large anti-government marches were attacked by pro-Aristide gunmen.
The government blamed the opposition for the bloodshed while
demonstrators accused Aristide of corruption and human rights
violations and have called for his departure.
Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest, was hugely popular when he
deposed soon afterward but restored to power by a U.S.-led invasion
after three years in exile.
He was re-elected in 2000 but his popularity has waned because of
allegations his party committed fraud in that ballot, and because of
The unresolved dispute over the 2000 vote has prevented a new ballot
from being held. The terms of most Haitian legislators expired on
Monday, immobilizing parliament.
On Wednesday, Aristide called for new parliamentary elections within
six months, but opposition leaders said there were inadequate
safeguards to assure free and fair ballot.
Aristide met with CARICOM officials and with President Bush (news –
web sites) and Secretary of State Colin Powell (news – web sites)
during last week’s
group urged Aristide to be more accommodating “in listening to the
Gift said the other leaders told Aristide, “You’ve got to do
something, this is about your last chance. You cannot let this
opportunity slip by.”