View Full Version : US Marines again under fire in Haiti, PM meets Aristide's party

13 Mar 04,, 01:02
US Marines again under fire in Haiti, PM meets Aristide's party
PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) Mar 12, 2004
US Marines again came under fire overnight in the violence-plagued Haitian capital, where newly appointed Prime Minister Gerard Latortue held talks Friday with members of the opposition and the Lavalas party of exiled leader Jean Bertrand Aristide.
The shootouts came hours after hardcore Aristide supporters and police traded fire Thursday near the Port-au-Prince city center, with two people reported dead and at least four more wounded.

The Marines "received hostile fire from a building in the St. Martin area," on Thursday night, said Marine Sergeant Timothy Edwards. He said the patrol returned fire and began to cordon off the area, only to come under attack again later in the night. He said there were no casualties.

The gunmen fled and the Marines found a shotgun at the scene.

The US troops have come under fire on several occasions in recent days and say they killed four Haitians.

Meanwhile, Latortue, 69, was holding separate talks with members of the opposition and the Lavalas party in a Port-au-Prince hotel, according to his aides.

"We really want to give an equal chance to all political parties, to all candidates. We want not to go fast, but to take time," he said in an interview with the New York Times.

A lawyer and economist who was briefly foreign minister in 1988 and for years a UN diplomat, Latortue is due to form a new government together with the council of seven eminent personalities who named him on Tuesday.

"I will be a provider. And when I start making jobs for them, putting in schools, hospitals, public health, they will see," he said in an interview with the New York Times.

He said the transition he plans for the economically-prostrate nation would take about two years.

"Aristide said he was a father, but he was a father who did not take care of his children," he said.

He also told a local radio station an invitation to Aristide to travel to Jamaica, "was an unfriendly gesture that could create tensions" and that he had mentioned this to his Jamaican counterpart Percival Patterson.

"Mr. Patterson told me it was a purely humanitarian gesture," he said.

Aristide resigned and fled, with US and French help, on February 29. He has since claimed from his exile in the Central African Republic that the United States and France kidnapped him.

His departure fueled violence in the Haitian capital, where shooting and looting incidents have become an almost daily occurrence.

On Friday, at least two shopkeepers in the capital's bustling Grand Rue were cleaning up what was left of their stores that were looted and torched after police and militant Aristide supporters traded fire in the street.

"I have nothing left, all gone," said Jeune Maisena, 50 as he swept the smouldering remains of his store that until Thursday was filled with televisions, radios, watches and other goods.

"All I've left is the pants I'm wearing," the bare-chested Maisena said. "It was the 'chimeres'," he said in reference to the militant pro-Aristide gangs that have been blamed for the recent days violence.

Broken watches, smashed sunglasses and ashes littered the ground.

"There was shooting in all directions," said Rodson Josselin, whose 54 year-old-mother, a storeowner in the busy market street, suffered bullet wounds to the head and the right arm in Thursday's shooting.

The firefights came shortly after police used teargas to disperse about 1,000 Aristide supporters when they reached the gates of the US-guarded presidential palace. The demonstrators had earlier marched through nearby slums chanting: "if Aristide stays away, we will chop off heads and burn houses."

In another development, Canadian authorities have arrested Aristide's feared security chief Oriel Jean, an immigration official said Friday.

The Toronto Sun newspaper quoted police sources as saying that Jean was being investigated for war crimes.