Fresh violence rocks Haiti

At least 12 people have been wounded in Haiti in fresh clashes between supporters and opponents of its embattled President Jean Bertrand Aristide.

    Unrest has swept the country in recent weeks

    Witnesses said a pro-Aristide gang opened fire and threw stones at a crowd of student demonstrators calling for the president's resignation in the capital, Port-Au-Prince, on Friday, wounding 12 persons including two journalists.

    A Haitian radio reporter was shot in the back while a Spanish television cameraman was wounded by a machete blow to the side of the head.

    The latest round of violence came as diplomats made a push for an international peace plan to defuse the crisis.

    Peace plan

    The plan calls for Aristide, who has repeatedly dismissed calls for his resignation, to cede significant power but allows him to stay in office through the remainder of his term which ends in 2006.

    Diplomats representing the United States, the Organisation of American States, France, Canada, Germany and the Bahamas delivered the plan.

    On Saturday, a high-level international mission is to follow up on the plan to stop Haiti's descent into anarchy.

    The White House explained the plan does not call for Aristide's resignation.

    Aristide's future

    Aristide's departure from power "is not something that is being discussed," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.

    Sources said the plan reportedly lays out a formula for the creation of a new independent government led by a prime minister who would have direct authority over an internationally trained and supervised police force.

    The peace initiative comes after weeks of turmoil in Haiti. With Aristide showing no signs of backing down, armed opponents have taken over several towns in defiance of the country.

    Scores have been killed in violence to date.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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