US rules out troops to quell Haiti revolt

The United States has ruled out on foreign forces going to Haiti to quell an armed revolt against the president.

    About 50 people have been killed in the rebellion

    Criticised for doing little to prevent spreading chaos

    in the nation

    , US Secretary of State

    Colin Powell said his emphasis was on promoting a negotiated

    settlement through Caribbean mediators.

    The statement came despite spiraling violence and a surge in exiles

    returning to oust President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

    Last week, Powell warned the opposition

    against trying to unseat Aristide and said he was talking to

    other countries in the region about possibly sending police to

    Haiti.

    And on Tuesday, he made clear his preference was for police

    to be sent once the violence had abated.

    Humanitarian crisis

    "There is frankly no enthusiasm right now for sending in

    military or police forces to put down the violence that we are

    seeing," Powell told reporters.

    "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."

    Colin Powell,
    US secretary of state

    "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."

    Powell also said the United States, which a decade ago

    invaded Haiti to restore Aristide to power after a coup, was

    sending officials to Haiti to see how to address the

    "humanitarian crisis".

    The United Nations has appealed to both sides to allow food

    and medicine deliveries to avert a humanitarian disaster.

    Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said in Paris

    France was ready to offer humanitarian aid to Haiti. But there was no commitment

    about whether it was prepared to send a

    peacekeeping force to its former colony.

    Violence

    Up to 50 people have been killed in the rebellion against

    Aristide, which capped months of anti-government demonstrations

    and three years of political tensions, dating from contested

    parliamentary elections in 2000.

    Weeks ago, the CARICOM bloc of Caribbean nations hammered

    out an accord with Aristide that included his pledge to disarm

    gangs aligned with political parties.

    But the president has done

    little to follow through on the agreement despite the

    violence.

    Aristide, who is mid-way through a second term that began

    in 2001, has said he intends to stay the course to 2006.

    Critics accuse him of buying loyalty in the sprawling slums

    of the capital, Port-au-Prince, through patronage and

    franchising drug-trafficking rights.

    Corruption

    On the other hand, the government describes

    opponents as a small mulatto elite opposed to the country being

    run by its poor, black majority.

    Aristide was Haiti's first elected
    leader 

    Powell said the United States was working to have the

    government and opposition open a dialogue to defuse tensions,

    but he noted there could be no negotiations with the armed

    gangs who were battling police in Haiti.

    "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 ... they are

    murderers, thugs and we can't expect anyone to deal with these

    kinds of individuals."

    Considered a champion of democracy when he became Haiti's

    first elected leader in 1990, Aristide has seen his once

    overwhelming popularity fade amid accusations of corruption,

    political violence and civil rights abuses.

    The revolt spread this month to several towns, where police

    stations were attacked and ports and warehouses were looted,

    but reached an uneasy stalemate as armed government supporters

    joined police in hunting down rebels and torching the homes and

    businesses of opponents.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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