Accessibility links

Breaking News

Haiti's New 'Non-Partisan Administration' Will be Judged on Achievements, Says PM - 2004-03-18

Haiti's interim prime minister Gerard Latortue has sworn in a new cabinet, calling it a non-partisan administration that will be judged on its achievements.

Mr. Latortue presided over the swearing-in of 13 cabinet members during a ceremony Wednesday at the National Palace in Port-au-Prince. Most of the cabinet ministers have been described as "technocrats" with few political connections.

Analysts have expressed fears that excluding allies of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from the new government could prolong tensions in the country. And members of Mr. Aristide's Lavalas party have warned that national reconciliation will not be possible unless they are given a voice.

Mr. Latortue has said his priority is restoring accountability to the government and ending corruption.

Meanwhile, pro-Aristide gangs began turning their guns over to police in the slums of Haiti's capital Wednesday. French peacekeepers were present as dozens of weapons were handed in.

Despite the recent progress in Haiti, Venezuela and Jamaica have refused to recognize the country's new government.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says he still considers Mr. Aristide to be the country's true president, while 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 Jamaica because of its decision to allow Mr. Aristide to visit for eight to 10 weeks.

Mr. Aristide fled Haiti in late February in the midst of an armed rebellion and international pressure. The former leader has maintained that he is Haiti's legitimate leader, and that the United States forced him to resign. Washington has strongly denied the allegation.