Haiti faces worldwide UN oil embargo: Security Council gives military regime ultimatum for restoration of deposed President Aristide

THE UN Security Council yesterday imposed a mandatory worldwide ban on the supply of oil and arms to Haiti unless the country's military rulers restore President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power within a week.

In addition, the financial assets of Haiti, which is one of the world's poorest nations, are to be frozen worldwide. The resolution, which was approved unanimously last night, permits the Council to use military force in execution of the sanctions under Article 7 of the United Nations Charter. There was a delay in passing the resolution because the non-aligned members were also calling for a ban on commercial flights to Haiti.

Washington imposed an oil embargo on Haiti at the end of 1991. However, the military government has thwarted the ban by buying oil on the spot market in Amsterdam.

Before the coup about 70 per cent of all Haiti's trade was with the United States, and US officials said that if the military refused to back down they expected the oil ban to be almost total. Most of the oil enters through the harbour at Port-au- Prince, and it should be easy to monitor shipments, they said.

Haiti's parliament voted on Tuesday to recognise Mr Aristide, who was overthrown in 1991, as the country's leader, but it granted him so little power that his backers boycotted the debate. The measure called for a new prime minister to be approved by parliament and left largely intact the military and the legislature.

The Council's resolution asks the UN Secretary-General, Boutros Boutros-Ghali, to put the oil embargo into effect within a week unless he deems that enough progress has been made towards the restoration of Mr Aristide and 'the imposition of sanctions is not warranted'.

In Port-au-Prince an unnamed US State Department official speaking on a Voice of America radio broadcast in Creole said Mr Aristide's return to power was a necessary step in resolving the political crisis.

While there is no civil war in Haiti, the Security Council members justified their action because of widespread violation of human rights which had led to an exodus of boat people and destabilisation of the region.