Originally: Aristide may have to step down!


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States said on Tuesday resolving the upheaval in Haiti would require major changes in the way the state is governed and a senior official said this could mean President Jean-Bertrand Aristide stepping down.


We recognize that reaching a political settlement will require some fairly thorough changes in the way Haiti is governed,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters at a regular briefing.


“The actual, sort of, formulas and mechanisms for that would have to be worked out, we hope, through peaceful negotiation using the efforts of CARICOM (the Caribbean Community regional bloc),” he said.


A senior State Department official said proposals for a resolution were under discussion which could involve Aristide’s departure from office, although he did not specify who was making the proposals.


“It’s clear from the kind of proposals that have been made and the discussions that are being held that when we talk about undergoing change in the way Haiti is governed, I think that could indeed involve changes in Aristide’s position,” he said.


Police are battling armed rebels for control of a number of towns across Haiti, the poorest nation in the Americas. The United States says the violence stems from Aristide’s use of gangs of thugs for years to intimidate political opponents.


Caribbean leaders, who have mediated between the opposition and Aristide, won acceptance earlier this month from the former Roman Catholic priest that he would set up a broad-based advisory council to the government, appoint a new prime minister and disarm gangs aligned with political parties.


But with a surge in violence in the last week and little concrete follow-up from Aristide, Washington appeared to be increasing the pressure on the leader, who was restored to power by a U.S. invasion in 1994 after a coup.


But since his election to a second term in 2000, Aristide has had a rocky relationship with the international community and Washington has blamed him for fomenting a climate of violence that led to this month’s revolt.