Malval says he'll resign next month

November 28, 1993|By Newsday

UNITED NATIONS -- In a move that would greatly complicate already difficult efforts to return President Jean-Bertrand Aristide Haiti, the exiled leader's prime minister is saying he will resign Dec. 15.

Robert Malval has been Father Aristide's point man in negotiations with Haitian army officials who overthrew the democratically elected president in a coup Sept. 30, 1991.

"In the course of his meetings with various groups over the past week, he's been telling them that he intends to resign on the 15th," a knowledgeable U.N. official involved in attempts to resolve Haiti's crisis said of Mr. Malval late Friday.

"That would be a huge complication," the official said.

The naming of a new prime minister would open the door for more bickering among political factions and would delay even further the already dim prospects for Father Aristide's return to his homeland. But the move would delight Aristide opponents who have wanted Mr. Malval to step aside and make way for someone more to their liking.

Father Aristide was supposed to go back to Haiti Oct. 30 under a United Nations-brokered plan, but he was not able to do so because the army would not carry out its part of the bargain. According to the U.N. plan, army chief Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras was to resign and the Parliament was to create a civilian-controlled police force. Those and other aspects of the U.N. agreement have not been fulfilled.

In July, when Mr. Malval accepted the difficult task of representing Father Aristide in Haiti, he made it clear he wanted the job to be temporary. He said then that he would leave by Dec. 15. In the face of increasing violence against his political allies, he has even threatened to resign before that date. But until now, Mr. Malval has complied with Father Aristide's requests that he stay on.

"We hope he won't [resign], but,yes, he has been saying that," said Jean Casimir, Father Aristide's ambassador to Washington.

"We have asked him to reconsider. That's the only thing I can tell you," Mr. Casimir added.

Mr. Malval is a wealthy book publisher with ties to the Haitian elite that opposed Father Aristide, a leftist Roman Catholic priest. U.S. officials saw Mr. Malval as a critical bridge to the powerful political sectors arrayed against Aristide.

If Mr. Malval steps down, Father Aristide would have to appoint another prime minister, who would have to go through a confirmation process in the Haitian Parliament. But recently, the Parliament has been unable to muster a quorum. Many legislators have said they are afraid to show up at the legislative palace, citing threats of violence.

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