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#1575: U.S. diplomat returning to Haiti (fwd)
Published Friday, December 3, 1999, in the Miami Herald
U.S. diplomat returning to Haiti
Former charge d'affaires to become interim chief next month
BY DON BOHNING
Leslie Alexander, a senior American diplomat with previous experience
in Haiti, is slated to become interim chief of the U.S. Embassy there,
replacing Ambassador Timothy Carney, whose resignation was announced
this week. Alexander, 51, who served as deputy chief of mission and then
charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Port-au-Prince from 1991 to
1993, is expected to return to the country in early January and hold the
post three to six months, The Herald has learned. Brian Dean Curran, a
native of Seminole, Fla., and career diplomat now serving as U.S.
ambassador in Mozambique, is said to be the Clinton administration's
choice to succeed Carney as ambassador to Haiti. The nominating and
confirmation process is not likely to be concluded before next spring.
The State Department said it could not confirm Alexander's or Curran's
pending designations. But it didn't deny them. The embassy reshuffling
comes as David Steinberg, a former ambassador to Angola and special
advisor to the President for African affairs, replaces David Greenlee as
the State Department's special coordinator for Haiti. Greenlee was
named ambassador to Paraguay.
There have also been recent changes in responsibility for Haiti within
the White House national security staff. Arturo Valenzuela, a former
deputy assistant secretary of state, became the NSC's top Latin America
staffer in June, replacing James Dobbins, who had once been the State
Department's special coordinator for Haiti. Fulton Armstrong, who had
direct NSC responsibility for Haiti, has left and is expected to be
replaced by Caryn Hollis, a Defense Department officer. The changes come
as Haiti heads into a critical election period, with a vote
scheduled in March for parliamentary and local offices, and a
presidential election due next December in which former President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide is currently regarded as the front-runner.
The designation of Alexander to temporarily head the embassy is seen as
a signal of the Clinton administration's concern with Haiti as the
United States also enters a general election period. Billed as an
administration success story after a U.S.-led force ousted a brutal
military government and restored constitutional rule in 1994, the
country has been paralyzed by political gridlock for more than two years
and has been functioning without a parliament for nearly a year.
Alexander, who has held ambassadorial posts in Mauritius and Ecuador
since leaving Haiti in 1993, is currently ambassador in residence at
Florida International University. He will serve in Haiti in much the
same fashion as Charles Redman in 1993, when the country was under
military rule. Redman had been State Department spokesman and a former
ambassador to Sweden when he was named special charge d'affaires to
Haiti. Carney's departure -- coming several months before the end of his
normal tour -- had long been rumored. A career diplomat, Carney became
ambassador to Haiti on Jan. 7, 1998. He had previously served as U.S.
ambassador to Sudan. In a statement Wednesday, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti
confirmed that President Clinton had accepted Carney's resignation.
``Ambassador Carney will retire after 32 years in the foreign service,
effective Dec. 31. After a short vacation he plans to pursue interests
in foreign affairs, most probably through the private sector,'' the