Tags: Aristide | Loses | Support | French

Aristide Loses Support of French

Thursday, 26 February 2004 12:00 AM

Support from Paris had been seen as critical to Aristide's survival.

Aristide, whose term as Haitian president has two years to run, has insisted he will not resign. He has called the rebel opposition no more than "terrorists."

A senior official at the French foreign ministry told NewsMax that any move to preserve Arisitde's embattled presidency is now over:

"He does not have our support, we will now move to support a government of national unity,"

The official added that France has invited all factions to Paris for "discussions" but so far both parties claim to be "having trouble" finding flights out of the country.

When asked if the French government might provide transportation for the Haitians, the answer was "no."

Meanwhile, the French official admitted that events in Haiti are "moving so fast, we may not have time to react."

U.S. officials at the United Nations confirm that an "emergency" meeting of the Security Council has been called for Thursday to discuss the rapidly deteriorating situation.

It is unclear what, if anything the Council could do.

Both French and U.S. diplomats say that it is possible "a civilian international police force" could be dispatched to the war-torn nation.

While French officials insist that any force dispatched would be officially "civilian," it would also be sufficiently armed to react to the situation on the ground. In short, the forces Paris is moving to send to Haiti would be closer to US "SWAT" squads, than typical police forces, say diplomats.

At the White House, President George W. Bush told reporters that he has ordered the Coast Guard to "intercept and turn back" any Haitians who may try to flee the Caribbean nation.

In 1994, as a rebellion grew agaisnt a Haitian military government, more than 40,000 refugees fled across the Atlantic to Florida, causing a political furor in Miami and Washington.

In 2004, the Bush White House seems determined to prevent a re-run of 1994, especially in a U.S. presidential election year.

While admitting frustration in dealing with the situation, French officials tell NewsMax that Paris is trying to dangle a carrot in front of the Haitian factions.

"We are telling both sides that we will move to unfreeze foreign aid," say French sources.

It was explained that the European Union had frozen more than $200 mil in aid to Haiti as protest to a lack of reforms promised by Aristide.

"We will move to get this money unfrozen, after all $200 mil. is not peanuts," said a French diplomat.

It may not be peanuts, but it may be too little too late.

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Support from Paris had been seen as critical to Aristide's survival. Aristide, whose term as Haitian president has two years to run, has insisted he will not resign.He has called the rebel opposition no more than "terrorists." A senior official at the French foreign...
Aristide,Loses,Support,French
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2004-00-26
Thursday, 26 February 2004 12:00 AM
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