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US Urges Its Citizens to Leave Haiti

The United States is warning American citizens to leave Haiti as soon as possible, as a two-week old uprising against the government continues.

In a travel advisory, the State Department says security continues to deteriorate, with controntations between pro and anti-government forces. It urges travelers to avoid the Caribbean island, and advises all Americans in Haiti to leave "at their first safe opportunity." The Peace Corps has ordered its volunteers to leave Haiti, and the U.S. Embassy has authorized the departure of embassy families and non-emergency employees.

The United States is sending a small military team to Haiti on Saturday to assess the security situation.

Also on Saturday, representatives from the United States, Canada, France, and the Caribbean Community are expected to travel to Haiti to present a plan for ending the crisis to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the opposition. The proposal calls for disarming warring factions, installing a neutral prime minister and establishing a broad-based government advisory council to prepare for new parliamentary elections.

The rebels are demanding President Aristide step down, and have vowed to take over the capital unless he does. Mr. Aristide said Thursday he would rather die than leave his post.

At least 55 people have died in Haiti's violence since the uprising began in the port city of Gonaives on February fifth.

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