Saturday, October 23, 2004

 

Aristide pleads for end to Haiti violence

Aristide, from his exile in South Africa--a name which resonates with those of us who were part of the massive movement in the 1980s to bring down apartheid--has pleaded for an end to the violence in Haiti. He believes that conversation can bring an end to this painful period.

Aristide says only dialogue will end Haiti mayhem

20 Oct 2004 18:26:32 GMTSource: ReutersBy John Chiahemen

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 20 (Reuters) - Exiled former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Wednesday angrily denied accusations he was fomenting violence in his homeland and accused Haiti's interim leader of brutally suppressing dissent.

Gang and political violence has killed more than 50 Haitians in the past two weeks.
"Latortue, stop the lying, stop the killings," Aristide said in a statement from South Africa directed at Prime Minister Gerard Latortue.

"True dialogue is the only solution (in Haiti). With the lives of millions at stake, public officials must act responsibly," he said in the statement, faxed to Reuters in Johannesburg.

Aristide has been in Pretoria since May after he was forced into exile in February in what he says was a U.S.-engineered coup.

The statement was his first public reaction to Latortue's blistering attack last Sunday in which he accused South African President Thabo Mbeki of allowing Aristide to direct a violent campaign by his supporters in the Caribbean country.

Latortue repeated the charges on Monday, telling Reuters: "President Thabo Mbeki has not made enough effort to prevent Aristide from using the South African hospitality to destabilize Haiti."

Aristide did not address the allegations against him directly, but fired his own salvo against the prime minister.

He said Latortue had admitted in an Oct. 1 broadcast that security forces had fired on demonstrators. "De facto prime minister Gerard Latortue acknowledged that he is a killer," Aristide said.

"We fired on them. Some died, others were wounded, and others fled," he quoted Latortue as saying in the broadcast.

COUNTER CHARGES

Aristide also accused Latortue of fomenting unrest "in allowing soldiers of the disbanded brutal army to take charge and remain in charge of entire areas of the country and his sanctioning of their use of violence."

"During these past eight months thousands of Haitians have been killed in defence of democratic principles," he said.

The South African government, which continues to recognise Aristide as Haiti's rightful president, on Monday dismissed Latortue's accusations against Mbeki.

"South Africa and indeed President Mbeki cannot be used as a scapegoat for failure by the Interim Haitian Authorities to bring about peace and stability," Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad said in a prepared statement read on national television.

South Africa gave Aristide refuge after he was deposed, a move Pahad said was agreed with Caribbean bloc Caricom in consultation with the United Nations, United States and Haiti's former colonial ruler France.

Latortue's comments reignited domestic opposition to Aristide's stay in South Africa, and two opposition parties called for an investigation into whether he was indeed inciting violence in Haiti from the safety of South Africa.

http://www.alertnet.org/thenews/newsdesk/L20301045.htm

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