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Haiti's Opposition Still Wants Aristide Out - 2004-02-22


Haiti's opposition continues to call for the resignation of Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide, despite his acceptance of an internationally-backed power-sharing deal.

A U.S.-led team of foreign diplomats met for more than four hours with opposition leaders in Port-Au-Prince Saturday after earlier obtaining Mr. Aristide's agreement to a plan to form a new government with his political opponents.

One of the diplomats - Bahamian Foreign Minister Fred Mitchell - told reporters that while opposition leaders did not accept the plan, they did not reject it either. Mr. Mitchell said the opposition has until Monday to give its response. But he added the delegation will resist any modification to the plan.

The proposed plan would include choosing a new prime minister acceptable to the opposition and a new cabinet, while allowing President Aristide to remain in office until his term ends in 2006.

Mr. Aristide said Saturday the plan also calls for disarming the rebel groups which have led a violent uprising in northern Haiti over the past two weeks. However, he ruled out dealing with the rebels, whom he described as thugs and terrorists.

Meanwhile, the State Department has ordered family members and non-emergency personnel of the embassy in Port-Au-Prince to leave the country. In issuing the order, the State Department said it is unsafe to remain in Haiti because of what it called the "deteriorating security situation." It also continued to advise all U-S citizens to leave Haiti.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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