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OAS Scheduled to Discuss Haiti Violence - 2004-02-19

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States is scheduled to meet Thursday, in Washington to discuss the violence that has left much of Haiti in turmoil.

An OAS statement says the council will also consider a draft resolution supporting the democratic process in the Caribbean nation, where an armed uprising against President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has left at least 55 people dead.

Wednesday, the U.N. Security Council urged the Haitian government and opposition groups to work together to overcome their differences peacefully.

In Washington, a State Department spokesman said much of the violence is being created by gangs once aligned with Mr. Aristide, and that it is critical that those who supported these groups take the lead in renouncing violence and working for political dialogue.

Armed gangs calling for the ouster of Mr. Aristide now control Gonaives, the country's fourth-largest city, as well as several towns in northern and central Haiti.

Haiti has been mired in turmoil since disputed legislative elections in 2000.