Accessibility links

Haiti Appeals for International Assistance to Battle Armed Rebellion

Haitian authorities on Tuesday appealed for international assistance to help police fight an armed rebellion in the country's north, but stopped short of asking for direct foreign military intervention to end the crisis. Diplomats in the capital say they are willing to provide Haiti with technical and humanitarian assistance, but it is up to Haiti's government and opposition to solve the country's deep-rooted political crisis that has now erupted into violence.

Haiti's Prime Minister Yvon Neptune said it was up to the international community to, in his words, show it really wants peace and stability in Haiti. While he stopped short of asking for direct foreign military assistance, Mr. Neptune did say he felt it was the duty of international community to support Haiti's police force which is less than a decade old.

Haiti's prime minister accused the international community of not providing enough support to allow the force to become an effective force to combat reactionary elements in the country.

Mr. Neptune's comments echoed those President Jean-Bertrand Aristide made on Monday when he appealed for technical assistance from the Organization of American States to help Haiti's beleaguered police force.

Mr. Aristide is facing a broad based political opposition as well as an armed rebellion in the northern part of the country. Haitian leaders are blaming the rebellion on former supporters of Haiti's military which was disbanded a decade ago.

Speaking in Port-au-Prince on Tuesday, U.S. Ambassador James Foley said the United States was willing to give Haiti $500,000 in humanitarian assistance, through the United Nations, to help it get through this current crisis. However the U.S. Ambassador also said Haiti's government must also accept some blame for finding itself in the crisis it is in.

"The political crisis in Haiti did not begin yesterday. It certainly did not begin with this armed rebellion. It has many root causes. It is not a simple matter at all. But the fact of the matter is that the nature of governance in this country over the last few years has contributed to the deterioration in the situation," he said.

On Monday in a significant escalation of the violence, gunmen said to be under the command of former death squad leader Louis Jodel Chamblain, entered the town of Hinche, about 113 kilometers north of Port-au-Prince and killed the police chief and two officers.

Mr. Chamblain and former national police chief Guy Philippe entered Haiti several days ago saying they were going to join an armed gang of former supporters of President Aristide who have seized Haiti's fourth largest city Gonaives.

On Tuesday witnesses reported no one seemed to be in control of Hinche. Ambassador Foley says the crisis in Haiti is real, but there needs to be a long term solution to eventually address the reasons why violence is now taking place. "We recognize that this is a challenge to the Haitian government. But we do not believe that these rebels are very numerous. We do not believe that in the case that we are able to show political progress and real change in the way Haiti is being run, that if we can show progress there, it will become clear that these rebels have no real support," he said.

Haiti's political opposition has distanced itself from the violence in Gonaives and other parts of the country, but Ambassador Foley says opposition leaders need to take a stronger stand against violence. He also says Haiti's government must do more to disarm and disband its armed supporters who he says have emerged as a threat to political discourse and stability in the western hemisphere's poorest nation.