Saturday, February 28, 2004

Hti: WH to Aristide, Surrender!

The Bush administration, concerned that armed groups in Haiti may seize power, believes the best hope for democracy is for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to surrender power to his constitutional successor, a senior official said Friday.

Pentagon officials also are weighing the possibility of sending troops to waters off Haiti to guard against a possible refugee crisis and to protect the estimated 20,000 Americans there. Many are Haitian-American dual citizens.
If armed groups take over Haiti, they would have virtually no international support and little chance of gaining popular support. The administration distinguishes between these groups and the country's peaceful opposition forces.

According to the Haitian constitution, the next in line to succeed Aristide is Supreme Court Chief Justice Boniface Alexandre. Among Haitians, Alexandre has a reputation for honesty.

The administration official said a transfer of power would be followed by early elections. In the interim, a broad-based government would run the country, consistent with a transition plan outlined a month ago by the 15-nation Caribbean Community.

Allegedly, Guy Philippe is married to a woman from Wisconsin; most likely, he's a U.S. citizen as well. I guess he'll be protected, too.


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