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Haiti Rebels Attack Cap-Haitien Airport - 2004-02-22


Witnesses say rebels have attacked the airport in Haiti's northern port city of Cap-Haitien.

A Haitian radio report says the airport has fallen into rebel control. There is no word on casualties. Cap-Haitien is the government's last major bastion in northern Haiti, where armed rebels have driven government forces from many towns since their uprising began earlier this month. At least 55 people have been killed in the fighting.

Meanwhile, Haitian opposition leaders are refusing to accept an internationally-backed plan that would have them share power with President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Mr. Aristide agreed to the plan during talks with international diplomats on Saturday. But the opposition insists that the president step down.

The proposal envisions a new government and prime minister acceptable both to the president and his opponents, but allows Mr. Aristide to remain in office until the end of his term in 2006.

Opposition leaders have said they will deliver a formal response by Monday at 2200 UTC. An opposition leader Misha Guillard told VOA's correspondent in Port-au-Prince that he does not envision the opposition changing its stance.

Diplomats say they will resist any modification to the plan, which has the support of the United States, Canada, the Organization of American States and the Caribbean Community.

The State Department has ordered family members and non-essential personnel of the American Embassy to leave Haiti. It also advises all U.S. citizens to leave the country. The desperately poor Caribbean nation has been torn by political dissension since disputed legislative elections more than three years ago.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.

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