Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the exiled priest who is scheduled to reclaim Haiti’s presidency in less than six weeks, called on the United Nations on Tuesday to reimpose economic sanctions until Haitian army chief Raoul Cedras and other military “killers” relinquish power and leave the island.
“We have to do something in order to remove the killers from the Haitian army, because otherwise we will have more suffering in Haiti,” Aristide told reporters in Washington after meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus and other supporters.
Aristide said nearly 100 political killings have occurred on the island since July 3, when he and Cedras signed an agreement intended to restore democracy and end the embargo that had shredded the country’s already-fragile economy. “They just continue to kill,” Aristide said of the military leaders who ousted him from power in September, 1991.
Possibly mindful of the economic troubles that would be caused by renewal of the U.N. embargo on petroleum and most other products, except for food and medicine, Aristide tried to couch his sanctions call in indirect terms. He said the world community should look at the human rights situation in the country and determine if the sanctions should be reimposed.
But when reporters pressed him for his own recommendation, he finally said: “Of course I am for the sanctions.”
Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.), chairman of the Black Caucus, said his group supports Aristide’s position on sanctions.
Under the terms of the July 3 agreement hammered out in U.N.-mediated talks on Governors Island in Upper New York Bay, Aristide is to return to Haiti on Oct. 30 and resume the presidency. Cedras, who organized the bloody coup against Aristide and ran the military government that replaced him, agreed to step down after Aristide returns and appoints a new army chief of staff. In exchange, the United Nations suspended, but did not repeal outright, the sanctions.
Cedras and his top commanders were to remain in place until Oct. 30, as was Michel-Joseph Francois, the widely feared police chief of Port-au-Prince, the capital.
Aristide said Cedras and Francois, along with other soldiers he did not name, have breached the Governors Island accord by undertaking a campaign of political murder. He said the killers must be removed at once. He also called on the United Nations to send international military and police advisers as soon as possible to Haiti, a step authorized by the accord.
Cedras made it clear in the Governors Island talks that he agreed to relinquish power only because the embargo had made it impossible for his government to continue. Aristide and his supporters reason that, if the sanctions are reimposed, Cedras, Francois and the others will have to give in.
As a preliminary step toward restoring democracy, Aristide appointed Robert Malval, a respected businessman, as prime minister. Malval, sworn in Sept. 2, was supposed to create a civilian government that would be in place when Aristide returned.