Originally: US fails to breathe life into Haiti peace deal

US fails to breathe life into Haiti peace deal
2/24/04 7:00pm
WASHINGTON (AFP) – The US effort to float an
internationally backed plan to avoid bloodshed in
Haiti was torpedoed by opposition leaders who demand
President Jean Bertrand Aristide’s ouster.

Secretary of State Colin Powell (news – web sites)
gave Haiti’s political opposition until 5:00 pm (2200
GMT) Tuesday to accept the power-sharing plan, as
armed rebels threatened to march on Port-au-Prince.

The opposition rejected the proposal Tuesday in a
letter delivered to diplomats in Port-au-Prince.

Powell spoke with 20 opposition leaders by telephone
before the deadline passed.

“He encouraged them to take a very serious look at the
plan that had been presented, to consider it very
carefully,” Richard Boucher said.

“He made clear that this was the best opportunity for
the opposition — the democratic opposition — to play
a meaningful role in peaceful, democratic and
constitutional settlements of the problems in Haiti
and that that settlement would have the full backing
of the international community.”

The deal would allow Aristide to stay in office until
2006 but strips his power with the appointment of a
new prime minister acceptable to the opposition.
Aristide agreed to the plan, but the opposition
insists he step down.

US officials want to resolve Haiti’s crisis
politically rather than by sending a peacekeeping
force to pacify the Caribbean nation.

More than 70 people have died since armed rebels took
over Haiti’s fourth-largest city, Gonaives, on
February 5.

The political opposition has distanced itself from the
armed rebels, who control the north of the country and
have been left out of power-sharing talks. The rebels
have threatened to march into Port-au-Prince.

The power-sharing plan has the backing of by the
Caribbean Community, the Organization of American
States, France and Canada.

The United States has sent 50 marines to Haiti to
protect its embassy but has refused a wider military
intervention for now. It has however, suggested that a
political accord could pave the way for an
international police force to support any new Haitian

The United States has refused to talk with the rebels,
who are considered delinquents with no political

Some observers say the plan cannot succeed.

“The likelihood of success (of the international plan)
does not seem particularly high,” said Daniel Ericsson
(news – web sites), an expert on Caribbean Affairs at
the Inter-American Dialogue in Washington.

The “democratic opposition is really focused mainly on
ousting Aristide and not on maintaining Haiti as a
governable country,” he added.

Jim Morrell, director of the Haitian Democracy
Project, views the power-sharing plan as a disaster
that stands no chance of being accepted by the
democratic opposition.

“They certainly want to negotiate … with the
international community,” he added. “But now they are
being forced to co-govern with Aristide. The movement
in Haiti now has a mass base and the people are
clamoring for an end to Aristide rule, so there’s no
way they can accept that.”

Powell wants to avoid sending troops to Haiti again.

In 1994, president Bill Clinton (news – web sites)
sent 20,000 US troops to restore Aristide to power,
three years after he had been overthrown in a military
coup. The intervention was not deemed a political
success in Washington, however. Moreover, the US
military is busy in Iraq (news – web sites).