U.N. team to propose settlement to return Aristide to Haiti, rebuild country

April 11, 1993|By New York Times News Service

MIAMI -- Four months after they began an effort to resolv Haiti's political crisis, United Nations mediators say they will propose a settlement this week aimed at restoring the country's deposed president within 60 days.

Diplomats said the settlement, reached after intensive international pressure and repeated shuttling between Washington and Port-au-Prince by U.N. mediators, calls for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's quick return after 18 months in exile, the removal of opponents in the army who helped overthrow him and the start of a vast aid program to rebuild the country.

Although several details of the package are outstanding, diplomats involved in the negotiations say that each side has been made aware of its broad outlines.

After weeks of increasing international pressure on Haiti's military leaders to pave the way for Mr. Aristide's return, senior Clinton administration officials last week told aid specialists who are meeting in Washington to prepare a reconstruction program for Haiti. The administration officials were confident that the military would not balk at the settlement.

"This is a historic opportunity for the Haitian people," said a senior Clinton administration official. "I don't know of a single case where the international community has really joined together as one like this, and put in the bucks too, to restore a constitutional government."

In what many diplomats said was a sign of impending acceptance of the plan, Haiti's army commander, Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras, made a rare speech to the nation Wednesday. He urged Haitians to "draw a new starting line for tolerance and mutual respect" and said that the country's army "has a desire to remain in its barracks."

Under the emerging outlines of the agreement, General Cedras would resign from his post in coming days, along with an unspecified number of his senior colleagues. From exile, Mr. Aristide would then quickly begin to form a new government that would replace the current army-backed government of Prime Minister Marc L. Bazin.

Mr. Aristide's new government is expected to include a compromise choice for prime minister, as well as a Cabinet bridging the gap between the far right and populist leftist parties, a gap that has dominated the country's political life since the end of the Duvalier family dictatorship in 1986.

To induce the retirement of General Cedras and other opponents of the president in the armed forces, an amnesty would be given to shield them from prosecution for their role in the coup and subsequent politically related violence, which international human rights groups say has claimed hundreds of lives.

In lieu of prosecution of the officers, Mr. Aristide and his advisers are said to be favoring the creation of an independent panel based loosely on the Truth Commission appointed by the United Nations to investigate atrocities committed in El Salvador's civil war.

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