By Michael Christie and Ibon Villelabeitia
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) – The United Nations launched an urgent appeal on Tuesday for $35 million to help Haiti after a bloody monthlong revolt and the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide left the poorest country in the Americas facing a humanitarian crisis.
U.N. resident coordinator Adama Guindo said the funds would feed and care for 3 million of Haiti’s 8 million people for six months.
“The situation in Haiti is one of chronic crisis,” Guindo said.
With a 2,300-strong international force patrolling the sprawling capital, a Haitian council considered candidates for prime minister in another tentative step toward establishing a government in the Caribbean country.
The panel, which included members of both the political opposition and remnants of Aristide’s government, on Monday interviewed candidates to replace Prime Minister Yvon Neptune, an Aristide appointee. They were expected to make a decision as early as Tuesday.
The first step to a new administration in the deeply polarized nation followed the bloodiest day since Aristide was flown to the Central African Republic on Feb. 29, driven out by a revolt that killed more than 200 people and by U.S. pressure.
Militant supporters of the former slum priest on Sunday fired on a crowd celebrating his departure, killing at least six. In their first engagement, U.S. Marines killed one attacker.
ANGER AT ARISTIDE’S DEPARTURE
At a roadblock made of smoldering tires, garbage and an overturned car chassis near the airport on Tuesday, 500 Aristide supporters rudely gestured at U.S. Marines and passing French military vehicles, urging them to “go, go, go.”
“We want our president back,” said Junior Louis, a 21-year-old clad in an oversized basketball shirt and shorts.
Aristide, a champion of democracy when he helped unseat the Duvalier family dictatorship in the late 1980s but accused of corruption and autocratic rule in recent years, insisted from exile on Monday that he remained Haiti’s first democratically elected leader.
He called on his supporters to “peacefully” resist what he termed a U.S. occupation. Washington scolded him for fueling tensions.
Aid agencies say Haiti is on the brink of a humanitarian crisis, with a third of the population suffering from chronic malnutrition and at least a quarter of a million dependent on handouts.