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US Pledges Additional $100 Million in Haitian Aid - 2004-05-24


The Bush administration said Monday it is providing Haiti with an additional $100 million in aid to help it recover from the political upheaval earlier this year that led to the resignation of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The new aid commitment comes three weeks after a visit to the U.S. by Haiti's interim prime minister, Gerard Latortue, who told Secretary of State Colin Powell that the weeks of unrest that led to Mr. Aristide's departure at the end of February had virtually destroyed the country's economic infrastructure.

Mr. Powell promised at the time to "scrub" the State Department budget for additional aid money for Haiti.

At a news briefing, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the additional $100 million for Haiti was cobbled together from money unspent from a number of other programs, and will be largely devoted to help Haiti's interim government restore electricity and other vital services and deal with a budget deficit inherited from Mr. Aristide.

He also said it would be used to help rebuild the country's police force and judicial system and prepare for elections next year.

"In Haiti, we have a government that is democratically inclined, it is in fact very committed to the process of returning full democracy to Haiti, returning the government to the people through elections, and a lot of this money is going to be devoted to that," he said. "One of the things we will be helping with is to establish judicial and police mechanisms that respond to democratic government."

The additional pledge nearly triples what had been a $60 million U.S. aid program for Haiti for this year, most of it food and other humanitarian assistance.

Mr. Boucher said the United States remains the largest single contributor of aid to Haiti, and he expressed hope the new commitment will be an example to other participants in a donors conference for Haiti due to be held before mid-July in the Canadian capital, Ottawa.

The United States has been the biggest contributor to the 3,600-member stabilization force - also including, Canada, Chile and France - that has helped keep the peace in Haiti since Mr. Aristide resigned and went into exile February 29 in the face of a widespread popular uprising.

The stabilization force is to give way next month to a United Nations contingent of some eight thousand troops and international police.

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