Haiti rebels agree to disarm

Haiti's rebels have agreed to lay down their arms, succumbing to growing international pressure.

    Rebel chief Philippe had earlier threatened not to lay down arms

    Rebel chief Guy Philippe on Wednesday announced his men would disarm after receiving security guarantees from the international community.

    Philippe's announcement came after his meeting with a US marine colonel who demanded that the rebels disarm.

    In an address, Philippe said the international community had given him assurances about Haiti's security.

    "We also received a guarantee that democracy will be put into action in Haiti," he added.

    Tough talking

    Diplomatic sources said the US colonel put it in no uncertain terms that Philippe had no role in Haiti's political future and should drop any intention of controlling the country.

    "It was an extraordinarily frank message," the sources said.

    The disarmament is a volte-face for the rebel chief, who only a day before had pompously refused to disarm.

    Reacting to a terse statement from the US State Department on Tuesday to lay down arms, Philippe had insisted his men would not disarm.

    Meanwhile, Haitian police during the day fought gun battles with gangs loyal to exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in a neighbourhood of capital Port-au-Prince, leaving at least three dead.

    Heavy fighting erupted as police sought to assert their authority on the barricaded, garbage-strewn streets of the slum.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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