Haiti's military regime faces oil embargo

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The Independent Online
PRESIDENT Bill Clinton says he will support the United Nations in reimposing economic sanctions against Haiti, including an embargo on oil, in an attempt to force the military regime to stick by its agreement to restore civilian rule under Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the elected president.

The move comes after gun- waving auxiliary police in the Haitian capital, Port-au- Prince, stopped 170 US troops landing from a US naval vessel. A furious US withdrew the ship, the USS Harlan County, from the harbour.

Mr Clinton said he had no intention of sending US soldiers to Haiti if their lives were going to be in danger and ordered the ship out of Haitian waters. A second ship carrying more US troops will not sail.

'I will not have our forces deposited on Haiti when they cannot serve as advisers,' Mr Clinton said. Drawing a sharp distinction between the US role in Haiti and Somalia he added that in Haiti: 'We were not asked to come in to make the peace or keep the peace.'

Earlier Warren Christopher, the Secretary of State, said the army commanders General Raoul Cedras and Lieutenant- Colonel Michel Francois, chief of police in Port-au-Prince, had violated the accord agreed in New York last July under which they would step down and be replaced by Fr Aristide, whom they overthrew two years ago in a coup in which at least 1,500 died.

As a symbol of support for the agreement the US had intended to send 600 troops under UN control to Haiti, until the first detachment of 170 was stopped from landing. President Clinton laid full blame for what had happened on the Haitian government and praised Fr Aristide for sticking by the accord.

In the Haitian capital supporters of the military government yesterday staged 'a day of indignation', stopping buses carrying children to school. Overnight 100 of them lined up their cars along the sea front in the Port-au-Prince port with their headlights menacingly pointed towards the Harlan County.

It is now looking increasingly unlikely that General Cedras will step down as agreed on 15 October to be replaced on 30 October by Fr Aristide.

Washington is trying to persuade opponents of US intervention in Haiti that the 600 US troops - as well as 600 UN police - would not be involved in combat duties but would be engaged in retraining the 7,000 Haitian army and police force and building roads and bridges.

Although death squads made up of attaches, as the auxiliary police are called, have murdered more than 100 Haitians in Port-au-Prince over the last two months they have yet to kill any non-Haitians, but, given their total control of the streets, they could do so at any time.

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