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Haitian Rebels Say Attack on Port-au-Prince Imminent - 2004-02-27


Armed rebels seeking the ouster of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide say an attack on the capital, Port-au-Prince, is imminent unless he resigns.

Rebel leader Guy Philippe said Thursday that his men are in position to attack the city and are waiting to see if President Aristide steps down before doing so.

The former regional police chief also says he has positioned supporters inside Port-au-Prince and is ready to seize the National Palace and arrest the president if he does not resign immediately.

Mr. Philippe issued the threat from Haiti's second-largest city, Cap Haitien, which the rebels overran several days ago. There has been no independent confirmation of his forces heading toward Port-au-Prince.

With Haiti's political crisis escalating, Secretary of State Colin Powell has voiced disappointment with President Aristide. Secretary Powell said (Thursday) that U. .officials have not seen the kind of progress in Haiti they had hoped for under Mr. Aristide's tenure.

But, Mr. Powell told U.S. senators that he still hopes Haiti's violent situation can be resolved through a political deal between its government and opposition.

Mr. Powell recently said that if Mr. Aristide stepped down voluntarily, as part of a political agreement, it would be "fine" with the United States. But, Mr. Aristide, in an interview with CNN (Thursday), again said he is not willing to give up power. The president has said he will serve out his term, which ends in February 2006.

Haiti has been mired in turmoil since disputed legislative elections in 2000.

Information for this report is provided by AP and Reuters.

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