Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Haitian Military Leaders Hold Talks with Prime Minister

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Haitian Military Leaders Hold Talks with Prime Minister

Article excerpt

Haiti's military leaders met with the country's civilian government for more than three hours Saturday night in an effort to reach a political settlement to avert a worldwide ban on trade with Haiti.

The meeting, between Prime Minister Robert Malval and the Haitian High Command, led by Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras, centered on plans to restore a previously negotiated timetable for the return from exile of the elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. He was scheduled to return by Saturday.

The military's decision to resume talks on Aristide's return came amid severe international pressures and rising tension in Haiti itself because of a United Nations blockade on shipments of oil and arms to the country, which took effect Tuesday.

Shortly after the meeting broke up, an aide to Malval said: "All of the questions have not been exhausted. Everything is not clear yet."

The aide said the two sides had agreed to meet on Monday. Asked what was the biggest hangup, he said, "It's the question of the amnesty - less for the army than for the civilians working around them."

Participants in the meeting said the discussions began with a request by the army to lift the sanctions, which have stopped gasoline sales throughout the country. According to participants, when Malval refused the request, the army then began to discuss scenarios for Haiti's future.

Malval immediately warned the army that if Aristide did not return to Haiti as scheduled next week, the country's civilian government would resign.

At that point, the participants said discussion turned to ways that Aristide could be returned to office by Saturday. The meeting took place in the home of Malval, who was appointed as interim prime minister by Aristide seven weeks ago.

Since Malval encouraged international oil companies operating here to make a broad interpretation of the U.N. sanctions on Haiti, stopping most gasoline sales, this city has been tense, with long, angry lines forming at the few stations that have continued to sell remaining supplies.

Commerce Minister Louis Dejoie said it was revealed during the meeting that Cedras had told Aristide in an Oct. 14 letter that he intended to step down. …

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