Originally: Improving security in Haiti and establishing an effective police force are cited by a top diplomat as primary U.S. goals.
WASHINGTON – Creating a new Haitian police force ”that’s not corrupt” and keeping violence out of the fragile political process are top priorities for Haiti, Assistant Secretary of State Roger Noriega said Wednesday.
”The Bush administration will do its part to get it right” in helping Haiti, Noriega pledged at a forum by the American Enterprise Institute.
In a wide-ranging discussion, Noriega, the Bush administration’s top diplomat for the hemisphere, said he anticipates more U.S. aid and trade breaks for Haiti, while stressing that eliminating corruption and privatizing the ports are necessary to lure investment.
He also said that multinational peacekeeping forces, which will come under U.N. authority in two months, will be part of a gradual effort to disarm groups, including those that helped oust President Jean-Bertrand Aristide Feb. 29.
Noriega conceded that French forces in northern Haiti are not actively disarming rebels, and said peacekeeping forces may pay for guns and information on hidden weapons.
Some rebels, including Louis Jodel Chamblain, convicted in absentia for a 1994 massacre, should be detained and eventually brought to trial, he added. “There has to be some accountability for political violence, but the truth is that right now there is no judicial system that can impose its will.”
A new Haitian police force will probably take about a year to be established, Noriega said.
To give Haiti ”a shot at genuine democracy,” all non-violent participants should be allowed to take part in elections in 2005, including members of Aristide’s Lavalas Family party, he said.
Noriega also predicted that Aristide would eventually move to South Africa, his first choice for exile. Jamaica, which agreed to temporarily host Aristide, ”has done a creditable job mitigating his presence in the region,” Noriega said.
Noriega also said the administration will probably support some increase in humanitarian aid and a bill in Congress to offer trade concessions to create jobs in Haiti.
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