Haitians React Warily to Military’s Acceptance of U.N. Plan With PM-UN-Haiti, Bjt
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ Exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s supporters are encouraged by the army’s acceptance of a plan to return their leader, but remain skeptical the military will keep its word and give up power.
The U.N. plan envisions Aristide’s return Oct. 30 and the resignation of army chief Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras and other top officers. Aristide, in New York attending talks on his reinstatement, has yet to accept the plan.
In the sprawling Cite Soleil slum Friday, the wife of a man beaten by police after a pro-Aristide rally Monday said she was certain Haiti’s first freely elected president would return. But she didn’t believe any pledge from officers who ousted him in a bloody September 1991 coup.
″October is too far away,″ said Gerda Francois, 22.
Under the plan, Parliament, which is hostile to Aristide, must approve his choice of a prime minister, then a punishing U.N.-imposed oil embargo imposed June 23 would be lifted.
Mrs. Francois feared lifting the embargo would encourage soldiers to delay Aristide’s return.
″And we would rather die,″ she said, sweat drops dotting her face inside her dark 12-by-10 foot shed. She said the police broke both her husband’s arms. They had been hiding from the police since a judge ordered Vesnel Francois’ release from police custody Thursday.
Aristide, a Roman Catholic priest widely popular among Haiti’s impoverished masses, is despised by much of its tiny elite and army. Some soldiers have vowed to kill him if he returns.
Tension caused by shortages stemming from the oil embargo was evident Friday at a main road where scores of halted vehicles lined up behind pumps of two gas stations.
Hundreds more vehicles were trapped on the road for a half-hour after the cars of a soldier and a policeman crashed into each other. The two jumped out brandishing weapons.
″It’s like a civil war 3/8″ yelled one man to a group watching the altercation as other police sought to break it up.
Minutes earlier, another motorist had waved a gun at an attendant at the adjacent Esso station. The station then shut off its pumps.