PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI — Canada will be part of a multinational delegation travelling to Haiti Saturday to help put an end to the bloody conflict that has engulfed the French-speaking Caribbean nation.
Denis Coderre (file photo)
Federal cabinet minister Denis Coderre, minister responsible for the Francophonie, will join representatives from the United States, France and Caribbean nations to press Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to enact political reforms.
“It is clear that we don’t want Aristide’s head. We think Aristide should stay.? It is clear we want a political solution,” Coderre said.
Foreign Minister Bill Graham said Aristide is not living up to political reform agreements he made earlier this month in Kingston, Jamaica.
These include disarming gangs, releasing political detainees, establishing a commission for 2006 elections, reforming the police and appointing a new prime minister.
Pressure is mounting for Aristide to leave office as a bloody uprising spreads in the country’s north. At least 60 people have been killed in fighting during the past two weeks.
Aristide says he won’t be forced from office by armed rebels, and is prepared to die rather than call early elections.
“I am ready to give my life if that is what it takes to defend my country,” he said Thursday. “If wars are expensive, peace can be even more expensive.”
Aristide repeated a plea to the world to help him maintain law and order. He said Haiti’s police force has fewer than 4,000 members, and is outnumbered by attacking insurgents.
“I order the police to accompany the people courageously with the constitution as their guide,” he said. “When the police are united to the people, they are invincible.”
FROM FEB. 18, 2004 Coup d’etat in motion, Haiti’s PM warns
FROM FEB. 18, 2004 Haitian city on edge as rebel rumours swirl
U.S. officials have urged Americans to leave Haiti and the U.S. Embassy has told its staff not to travel outside of Port-au-Prince. Roughly 20,000 Americans live in the country.
Aristide was first elected in 1990, but was chased out of Haiti by the army less than a year later. He returned to power in 1994 after a U.S. invasion. His term as president doesn’t expire for two more years.