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New Haitian Government to be Sworn in Wednesday - 2004-03-17

Haiti's new interim government is set to be sworn in on Wednesday, amid fears that the cabinet's exclusion of allies of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide could prolong tensions in the Caribbean country.

Haiti's new Prime Minister Gerard Latortue says none of the 13-member cabinet is affiliated with any political party.

Members of Mr. Aristide's Lavalas party have warned that national national reconciliation would not be possible unless they were given a voice. But the Reuters news agency quotes Mr. Latortue as saying he would have picked a Lavalas member for his cabinet but no organization sponsored a candidate.

Meanwhile, Venezuela and Jamaica have refused to recognize Haiti's new government.

Jamaican officials say they will likely re-examine the issue following next week's Caribbean Community regional summit in Saint Kitts.

Earlier this week, Haiti suspended diplomatic relations with neighboring Jamaica because of its decision to grant Mr. Aristide temporary asylum. Both the United States and Haiti's interim leadership denounced the move, saying Mr. Aristide's return to the Caribbean could spark tensions in Haiti.

Jamaican officials say they have told the ex-president not to use the trip as a platform to seek reinstatement in his country.

Mr. Aristide, who fled Haiti in late February in the midst of an armed rebellion and international pressure, said in an interview published on Tuesday that he hopes his return to the Caribbean from Africa will comfort his supporters in Haiti.

The ousted leader has also maintained that he is Haiti's legitimate ruler, and that the United States forced him to resign. Washington has strongly denied the allegation.