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a760: Impasse must be resolved (fwd)

From: leonie hermantin <lhermantin@hotmail.com>

Impasse Must Be Resolved
South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board

February 10, 2002

Political factions fighting in Haiti need to put their differences aside and
solve the country's crippling impasse.

This past week, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide asked opposition leaders to
return to the negotiating table and reach an agreement over contested
elections. Both sides, with continued nudging from the international
community, need to find a political solution to Haiti's problems. If not,
violence and dire poverty will continue killing people in a country where,
increasingly, the mob rules.

More than $500 million in foreign assistance that could help to rebuild the
country remains frozen because of the political impasse. That much money
could go a long way in rebuilding the troubled nation.

Just last month, thugs affiliated with Aristide's Lavalas ruling party
destroyed opposition members' homes after a failed coup that critics say was
actually engineered by Aristide to provide an excuse to eliminate his foes.
Aristide supporters also killed one journalist and caused others to flee to
the United States to save their lives. It's a tragedy that the former
Catholic priest, who was brought up to promote love and brotherhood, has
relied on mob rule to keep his grip on 8.2 million people.

In the meantime, the Convergence, an opposition alliance made up of 15
parties competing for power, should focus on establishing domestic and
international support for future elections, rather than dwelling on
contested local and legislative elections that took place almost two years

This approach toward resolving the conflict could result in the easing of
international sanctions, thus helping to improve conditions for Haitians.
Caribbean leaders meeting in Belize this week have asked foreign donors to
release millions of dollars in aid.

Most opposition members can afford leisure trips to the United States, but
most Haitians are deprived of food, health care, enough schools and such
basic necessities as running water and electricity.

The Organization of American States hasn't achieved much since it began
mediating the conflict because both sides refuse to make concessions. Now
it's time for the Bush administration to take a more active role and show it
cares about what goes on in the United States' back yard.

Aristide has not promoted true democratic values in Haiti, but he is the
country's president and the opposition must work with him. The opposition
also should be looking toward the future, when Aristide is no longer in

The Bush administration must launch yet another high-level initiative that
marshals international support to show the global community is committed to
fostering democracy in Haiti. This should entail diplomatic pressure from
the Organization of American States and the United Nations.

Rebuilding Afghanistan is vital to American interests, but so is rebuilding
Copyright  2002, South Florida Sun-Sentinel

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