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7090: Events in Haiti (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

(from Caribbean Insight newsletter)

(16 Feb 01)

President Jean-Bertrand Aristide named a close aide, Jean-Marie Chérestal,
as his prime minister on February 9, brushing aside opposition demands that
the post go to them.  However Chérestal, 54 -- who served as minister of
planning and foreign aid (1993, 1994-95) and of finance (1995-96) and has
been Haiti's chief Lomé and Cotonout Convention trade negotiator since 1998
-- said he would "very quickly" open a dialogue and set up an "open
government" to try to break the political deadlock.  
        But the opposition Democratic Covergence (CD), who have designated
lawyer Gérard Gourgue as the country's "provisional president," ruled out
any participation in the new government.  Other opposition figures,
including former prime minister Marc Bazin, said they were willing to take
        Aristide promised "peace and dialogue" to solve the political and
economic crisis after he was sworn in on February 7.  He announced an
ambitious programme of economic activity and reform, but did not say how it
would be financed in view of the freeze in foreign aid stemming from doubts
about the new government's legitimacy.  His speech was preceeded by a
strong warning from Hubert Constant, president of the Catholic Bishops'
Conference, that violence and impunity could no longer be tolerated.  Only
one foreign head of government, Belizean prime minister Said Musa, attended
the inauguration.
        In his own "inaugural" speech, Gourgue stressed his past as a human
rights campaigner, but called for the return of the army, which was
effectively dissolved by Aristide in 1995 but has not been legally
abolished.  Government lawyers are considering legal action against the CD
for proclaiming a rival president.
        A civilian former diplomat, Arvel Jean-Baptiste, was appointed
deputy police chief (inspector-general) on February 13.  The influential
Sen. Dany Toussaint is expected to be named head of the force to replace
Pierre Denizé, who had been a target of strong Lavalas criticism, but
recent reports have spoken of tension between Aristide and Toussaint.