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Skepticism shadows Haiti pact.

|Stay alert,' Aristide's supporters warn

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - Many Haitians, especially those in favor of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's reinstatement, are skeptical a U.N.-brokered accord will return Aristide to power by Oct. 30.

"Since Cedras is happy with the deal, we are not. Stay alert," stated a communique circulated in many pro-Aristide parishes the day after Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras signed an accord in New York July 3. The agreement calls for Aristide to return to Haiti in exchange for an amnesty for soldiers who led the 1991 coup that overthrew the freely elected Aristide regime.

Cedras is triumphant over the deal signed on Governors Island in New York after six days of negotiations with the exiled Aristide government. The United Nations sponsored the talks, which included an agreement to lift international trade sanctions on Haiti after Aristide's prime minister is ratified by the country's parliament. No ratification date has been scheduled, and this part of the pact should be extremely difficult to enact.

A crowd of about 300 hard-line Aristide critics greeted Cedras at the Portau-Prince International Airport when the general returned July 3. A banner was erected near the airport that read: "Welcome Home Gen. Cedras. The leader of national reconciliation." National reconciliation is the political slogan of leaders from the fallen Duvalier family dictatorship.

The Aristide-Cedras accord is widely considered to be a good deal for the 8,400-member army. Aristide had insisted the entire army high command resign. But the deal calls for only Cedras to step down.

Under the deal Port-au-Prince Police Chief. Lt. Col. Michel Francois will resign his position but will remain in the armed forces. Francois was the field commander of the 1991 coup and is believed to be the most powerful army officer in Haiti.

"I won't accept anyone touching anyone in the army," Cedras warned during a televised address July 4.

Cedras, 44, signed the accord 10 days after the United Nations imposed a worldwide fuel and arms embargo on Haiti to pressure for Aristide's reinstatement. The U.N. fuel embargo is putting a lot of pressure on anti-Aristide parliamentarians to support the Governors Island pact.

Port-au-Prince bus fares have gone up from 30 cents to 40 cents and standard taxi rates have increased from 60 cents to $1. Any price increase is a hard blow for Haiti's poor.

"I love Aristide, but I hate embargo," said Phenel Joseph, 23, who lost his job after the 1991 coup and has been unemployed for nearly two years.
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Author:Slavin, J.P.
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Date:Jul 16, 1993
Words:416
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