Haiti's prime minister warns military of catastrophe


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Military leaders here have been told they have no option but to give up power and restore ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide or face "catastrophe," including renewed international economic sanctions, pro-Aristide Prime Minister Robert Malval said yesterday.

Taking an unusually aggressive tone, Mr. Malval told two U.S. reporters that army commander Brig. Gen. Raoul Cedras and his allies have violated an agreement he signed in July that calls for General Cedras' resignation and Father Aristide's return on Oct. 30.

"I'm sick and tired of it," the usually moderate, soft-spoken prime minister said of the attitude and tactics used by General Cedras in questioning the sincerity and objectives of the Aristide forces. Mr. Malval said that, despite his government's effort to live up to the July 3 accord reached in New York, "We get nothing in return. Words, words, words, but no deeds."

The agreement, signed by both General Cedras and Father Aristide, called for the army commander-in-chief to resign in exchange for amnesty; the appointment of a pro-Aristide prime minister (Mr. Malval); the naming of a new commander-in-chief; and Father Aristide's restoration to power after two years of exile that followed a Sept. 30, 1991, coup. It also called for the military to put an end to human rights violations and to allow Mr. Malval to take control of all government ministries and functions.

"If anything, human rights violations were worse after New York," Mr. Malval said, adding that the military still is not permitting his government to fully function. "They are still a step behind their commitments," he said.

It also has been understood that most of General Cedras' fellow senior officers would be removed and that Col. Michel Francois -- the Port-au-Prince police chief, a prime coup leader and one of the strongest opponents to Father Aristide's return -- would be reassigned outside the country.

Colonel Francois has flatly rejected these understandings, thus far, while General Cedras has equivocated and accused Father Aristide and the international community of violating the accords.

Although most diplomats and Haitian political experts say the two are resisting mostly to cling to the power and financial benefits they and their allies have accumulated, they state as their reason that Father Aristide has not provided a sufficient guarantee of amnesty or a government of true national reconciliation.

Mr. Malval said yesterday that Father Aristide will issue an amnesty decree within a week and "it will be broader than they [General Cedras and Colonel Francois] can even expect."

But the way Haitian sources outlined the forthcoming decree is likely to cause serious problems for General Cedras, who has demanded a total amnesty for all crimes, including murder, committed from the day of the coup until Father Aristide's return.

The sources' description of the decree fell far short of that. They refused to be specific. But they said it would not include "crimes against humanity, as defined in the Geneva Conventions on war crimes"; it also, they said, "must not be viewed as a blanket amnesty for all crimes, in general."

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