Originally: Colin Powell Remarks With Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds Following Meeting
Secretary Colin L. Powell
February 17, 2004
(11:35 a.m. EST)
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, on Haiti, the opposition says that Aristide needs to leave before there can be free and fair elections there, parliamentary elections. Do you believe that there can be free and fair elections with Aristide still in Haiti?
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. He is, right now, the free and fairly elected President of Haiti. And so we have put forward with the United Nations and with CARICOM and the OAS a good plan, the CARICOM plan, that we believe both sides should take to heart and stop the violence on both sides and move forward to find a political solution to this crisis. But we cannot buy into a proposition that says the elected President must be forced out of office by thugs and those who do not respect law and are bringing terrible violence to the Haitian people.
We have a serious humanitarian problem there now. We are sending people from the United States, OAS and other international organizations down to see what we can do about that humanitarian crisis, and we are also working with the OAS and others to see if we cannot get a dialogue going between President Aristide and his government and the opposition forces.
The opposition forces have taken on new dimensions. Some reflect political opposition leaders, but we also have thugs who can’t reasonably be called opposition, and we also have some individuals coming back into the country who had formerly been excluded from civil life in Haiti, for very good reasons; they’re murderers and thugs, and we can’t expect anyone to deal with these kinds of individuals.
One more, and then I’m afraid I have to go.
QUESTION: Mr. Secretary, last week you said that there were discussions going on about possibly sending police into Haiti. Is the United States considering sending its own police or other forces to quell the violence?
SECRETARY POWELL: No. The discussion that we had last week with our CARICOM and OAS friends had to do with sending in police to sustain a political settlement, not to go in and put down the current violence. There is, frankly, no enthusiasm right now for sending in military or police forces to put down the violence that we are seeing.
What we want to do right now is find a political solution, and then there are willing nations that would come forward with a police presence to implement the political agreement that the sides come to.
So it is important now for us to push for a political solution, not only between the efforts of the United States and the UN and the OAS and CARICOM, we’re also working with the Francophone group, and I spoke to French Foreign Minister de Villepin about the situation this morning, and France is also willing to play a role in all of this.
Thank you very much.