The leader of the rebels who seized Haiti’s second-largest city Sunday said he would halt the revolt if President Jean-Bertrand Aristide leaves the country. But he waffled on what he would do if Aristide’s political opposition agrees to a power-sharing arrangement that leaves the president in the National Palace.
”All we want is one thing — for Mr. Aristide to leave. We are waiting for the president to leave in peace,” Guy Philippe, head of the Haitian Liberation Front rebels, told The Herald in an interview by satellite telephone from Cap Haitien.
Asked what he would do after the capture of Cap Haitien on Sunday, Philippe said, “We will wait for one or two days to see if he leaves.”
But the former Cap Haitien police chief and alleged mastermind of several coup plots would not commit to halting his offensive if Aristide’s political opponents in Port-au-Prince accept a power-sharing arrangement proposed by a U.S.-backed international diplomatic mission Saturday.
”They won’t do that, you can believe me,” he said of the political opposition, which has tried to distance itself from the armed rebels. “They are very responsible people. I don’t think they will betray the people of Haiti.”
Pressed on the issue, he said the decision to halt the rebellion ”is not a matter of one or two or three people, it’s a matter of the entire population” to decide.
”It’s a matter of freedom,” he said in rapid and passable English. “It’s not easy for the people, with Aristide still in power.
”The people will decide,” he said. “I always say we will do what the people want us to do. We will follow what the people want. . . . I will listen to the people.”