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Last updated: 03 March, 2004 - Published 18:38 GMT
 
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Caricom delivers Haiti verdict
 
Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson
Jamaican Prime Minister P. J. Patterson
Caricom has called for an independent inquiry into the departure of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and says it will not send peacekeepers at this time.

The statement calling for an inquiry was delivered by Caricom chairman, Jamaican Prime Minister P. J. Patterson at the end of a two-day emergency meeting in Jamaica.

"Despite what we have heard in public and despite what we have heard in private we simply say that the situation calls for an investigation of what transpired."

"We believe that this should be done under the auspices of some independent international body such as the United Nations which would clarify the circumstances leading to the relinquishing of the presidency of Haiti by President Aristide," Mr Patterson said.

The Caricom chairman said the group was "disappointed in the extreme" that the United Nations Security Council failed to act on the motion put forward last Thursday calling for urgent UN intervention.

Mr Patterson said Caricom would not be sending peacekeepers to Haiti but would be part of a stabilisation force at a later date.

Caricom plan

The Jamaican prime minister said there had been no indication during discussions with the US and France that the plan which Caricom had put forward was not acceptable.

A key element of that plan was keeping Mr Aristide in office.

"In respect of our partners we can only say this, at no time in our discussions did they convey to us that the plan was unacceptable so long as president Aristide remained in office."

"Nor did they suggest to us anything of a nature pertaining to the conduct of President Aristide in office that would cause us to come to the judgement ourselves that he was unsuited to be the President of Haiti," Mr Patterson said.

The Caricom plan is the basis for the discussions being held in Haiti to form a power-sharing government.

Mr Aristide is presently in the Central African Republic.

There have been reports that the former president is there temporarily while an asylum application is considered by South Africa.

However authorities there say they have not received any formal request.

Mr Aristide’s lawyer Ira Kurzban, told BBC Caribbean Service he is planning international legal action against the US.

Mr Kurzban, said he had no doubt that the situation surrounding Mr Aristide’s departure was a coup.

This he said made it a gross violation of human rights of a democratically elected president.

Rebels told to disband

The Haitian rebel leader, Guy Philippe, who led the rebellion that resulted in the ousting of Mr Aristide, says he has ordered his forces to lay down their arms.

Mr Phillipe, who declared himself military chief on Tuesday, said he had done so because international security forces were moving to disarm supporters of the deposed president.

The BBC’s Stephen Gibbs said Mr Philippe had been summoned to the residence of the US Ambassador early on Wednesday when he was told he must lay down his arms.

Increasing numbers of US marines have begun patrolling the streets of the capital, Port-au-Prince, after they ordered all combatants to disarm and return to their homes.

Earlier on Wednesday sporadic gunfire was heard as armed rebels patrolled the city, where some districts appeared still to be under the control of gangs loyal to Mr Aristide.

Aid beginning

Aid agencies are gearing up to bring urgent supplies to Haiti where weeks of revolt and political upheaval have left thousands short of food and water.

A UN plane carrying medical supplies has arrived but aid workers say security needs to be established before large-scale distribution can begin.

A DC-8 plane from Copenhagen landed in the capital, Port-au-Prince, on Wednesday morning, bringing in 30 tons of medical supplies, the UN's children's agency (Unicef) said.

The UN body has launched an appeal for more than seven-million dollars towards emergency programmes for the country.

 
 
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