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Haitian Rebel Leader Enters Capital, Pledges to Lay Down Arms - 2004-03-01

Haitian rebel leader Guy Philippe made a triumphant entry into Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince on Monday, as U.S. Marines set up a command post at the city's main airport to prepare for the arrival of an international peacekeeping force.

Guy Philippe, the former regional police commander, and about 50 heavily armed men entered Port-au-Prince, and drove straight to the National Palace, where under the watchful eyes of U.S. marines, they greeted supporters before moving on to City Hall where they established a command post.

Mr. Philippe, who captured much of northern Haiti over the past two weeks, has pledged to lay down his arms now that president Jean Bertrand Aristide has left the country.

Haiti's interim president, Supreme Court Justice Boniface Alexandre and international diplomats, are expected to announce the establishment of a tripartite commission made up of the opposition, the government and foreign diplomats. The commission will govern Haiti until elections can be held.

The U.N. has authorized a three-month deployment of a multinational peacekeeping force for Haiti. For now, U.S. Marines and French troops are working to establish security at key points in the capital.