US set to invade Haiti within a few days

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The Independent Online
THE United States plans to invade Haiti within the next few days unless the military regime gives up power. A State Department official told the Independent yesterday that an invasion at the weekend was 'very likely - more than likely'.

President Clinton needs to carry out the operation immediately to avoid condemnation by a majority in Congress next week. The President yesterday accused Haiti's rulers of rampant human rights abuses and vowed to oust them by force if necessary, but said they still have a chance to leave voluntarily. 'We have literally exhausted every available alternative and the time has come for those people to get out. They can still leave. They do not have to push this to a confrontation,' he said.

The President showed reporters photographs to back his claim that the Haitian military government was 'plainly the most brutal, the most violent regime anywhere in our hemisphere'.

Earlier, US jets flew low over Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, dropping leaflets written in Creole showing a picture of the exiled President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and announcing that he would soon return.

Responding to what it called 'foreign aggression', Haiti's military government last night ordered a travel curfew, banning all vehicles from travelling on main routes between seven at night and seven in the morning. All planes and boats are forbidden to leave Haitian territory without permission, a communique declared.

President Clinton is to address the nation on television this evening to explain why he plans to use force to overthrow the military regime which seized power in a coup in 1991. He is expected to say that American credibility is at stake, and the refusal of the Haitian military leaders to withdraw leaves him no alternative.

Officials say 20,000 US soldiers will take part in the assault, and are expected quickly to overwhelm the 7,000-strong Haitian armed forces. An American frigate is already stationed offshore, and some 30 US vessels, including the aircraft carriers Eisenhower and America, will be in Haitian waters by the weekend. A total of 20 other countries have pledged 2,000 troops to support the operation.

US blunders, page 11

Leading article, page 15

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