While Aristide said he had accepted the plan, his  opponents rejected the plan because it would leave him in power.

 

Speaking at the presidential palace in the capital Port-Au-Prince after meeting an international delegation, Aristide said, "I accepted the plan, publicly and entirely ... in one word: yes." 

  

The opposition holds the president responsible for the political violence that has left at least 57 people dead since 5 February.

 

Aristide stressed the part of the plan calling for the disarming of opposing factions covered all those under arms, particularly rebels who had seized several towns and cities in the north.

 

Work

  

"We will not work with any terrorists," he said, using the term he employs to refer to the rebels in the north. "I will not go ahead with any terrorists."

  

The plan would allow Aristide to remain in power until the end of his term in 2006, but with a new government and a new prime minister acceptable to the opposition.

  

"We agree to have a new government and a new prime minister," he added.

  

"We agree to have a commission of three people, giving birth to a commission of seven wise people to help select a prime minister. And then we will have a new government."

 

"I accepted the plan, publicly and entirely ... in one word: yes"

Jean Bertrand Aristide,
President, Haiti

Once the new government is formed, he said, "free and fair elections" would follow, although he did not give a date.

  

"From today until 7 February 2006 I will continue to work with my brothers in the opposition," said Aristide.

  

The Haitian opposition rejected the peace plan, saying the only way to resolve the country's political crisis was for Aristide to step down.

 

Problem

  

Opposition leader Andre Apaid told reporters in the capital Port-Au-Prince Aristide was the "source of the problem" in Haiti.

 

He said "the people must continue to demonstrate peacefully" to press for Aristide's departure. 

 

Earlier on Saturday, a US-led diplomatic team arrived in the capital on a lightning mission to press the embattled Aristide and the opposition to quickly accept an emergency peace plan.

  

Headed by Roger Noriega, Washington's top US diplomat for the Americas, the team will reinforce a Monday deadline for the two sides to accept the plan, which was first presented on Friday by US, Canadian, French and regional officials.

 

Meanwhile, Washington ordered non-essential diplomatic personnel out of Haiti on Saturday and warned US citizens the country was no longer safe.