From Sun Feb 29 16:45:06 2004
Date: Sun, 29 Feb 2004 14:50:26 -0600 (CST)
From: Bob Corbett <>
To: Haiti mailing list <>
Subject: 19475: (Craig) CNN: Supreme Court justice installed as president (fwd)

From: Dan Craig <>

Aristide leaves Haiti; Supreme Court justice installed as president

CNN, Sunday 29 February 2004, 12:58 PM EST (1758 GMT)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (CNN)—Supreme Court Chief Justice Boniface Alexandre was installed Sunday as president of Haiti, replacing Jean-Bertrand Aristide in a transitional government.

The move came hours after Aristide resigned the presidency and left the country to prevent bloodshed, he said in a statement read by Prime Minister Yvon Neptune.

Aristide asked for and received U.S. help in leaving Haiti, according to a senior State Department official, who did not give specifics of how the United States aided his departure.

The State Department official told CNN that international diplomats, who had pressured Aristide in recent days to step down, will back the interim government until elections can be held.

Administration officials said that the new government would likely be restructured to give more power to the prime minister and less to the president.

Political opposition leaders earlier had rejected the same proposal as long as it included Aristide, Haiti's first democratically elected president since it declared independence from France in 1804.

Aristide's term in office was not scheduled to end until 2006.

His departure came as armed rebels—already controlling much of the Haiti's north and not associated with the political opposition—had been closing in on Aristide's embattled government, saying they had moved to within 30 miles of the capital.

After Neptune's announcement that Aristide was out, gunfire could be heard in the streets of Port-au-Prince, although it was unclear whether it was celebratory. Ambulance sirens echoed across the city, and black smoke from burning barricades rose into the air.

U.S. administration officials told CNN they were considering sending several hundred Marines to Haiti as soon as Sunday, but they added that they would need an invitation from Haiti's new leader so that the force would not be seen as an invasion.

The force's main mission would be to repatriate Haitians trying to come to the United States by sea and to provide support for any possible future international peacekeeping force.

U.S. Ambassador to Haiti James B. Foley said Sunday he expected a very rapid deployment of an international force.

Aristide's destination was unclear. Earlier, officials in the Dominican Republic said they expected his arrival there. But Dominican officials in Washington said the ex-president did not go to their country, but instead stopped in Antigua before heading for an undisclosed destination.

The Dominican officials in Washington, however, said that some of Aristide's cabinet ministers went to the Dominican Republic.

Officials in Morocco and South Africa also denied reports that Aristide, a former priest, had asked to go to those countries. According to the state-run media in Morocco, officials there said they would not have responded favorably to such a request.

Aristide had spent last week refusing to step down, instead pleading for international help to put down the insurrection. The United States, France and the Caribbean nations had backed a proposal for a power-sharing, interim government, but the opposition said it feared Aristide would not hold up his end of the deal and refused to sign on.

After pro-Aristide gangs sent Port-au-Prince into a spiral of violence at the end of the week, the White House on Saturday issued a strongly worded statement that blamed the violence on Aristide.

This long-simmering crisis is largely of Mr. Aristide's making, the statement said. His failure to adhere to democratic principles has contributed to the deep polarization and violent unrest that we are witnessing in Haiti today. His own actions have called into question his fitness to continue to govern Haiti. We urge him to examine his position carefully, to accept responsibility, and to act in the best interests of the people of Haiti.

State Department officials told CNN that Secretary of State Colin Powell, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin, Canadian Foreign Minister Bill Graham, Caribbean leaders, U.N. leaders and Haitian Roman Catholic bishops worked overnight to solve the crisis.

In 1990, Aristide became Haiti's first democratically elected president. He was overthrown in a 1991 coup, restored to power after intense pressure by U.S. officials in 1994 and won a new term in 2000—in elections his political opponents claim were fraudulent.