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International Troops Patrol Haitian Capital - 2004-03-04


Businesses are re-opening and people are returning to the streets of Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, where U.S. and French troops work to restore order after recent unrest.

Combat-ready Marines in heavily-armed military vehicles began the patrols late Wednesday - following deadly gunbattles between rebels and supporters of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The patrols came as rebel leader Guy Philippe bowed to U.S. pressure and said he would begin disarming his forces. Haiti's interim government has declared a state of emergency to help stabilize the country, and a dusk-to-dawn curfew remains in effect.

Mr. Aristide flew to temporary exile in Central African Republic. After arriving, he claimed the United States forced him to resign and leave Haiti. Senior U.S. officials have strongly denied the accusation.

In a related development, South African officials have added their voice to calls for an independent probe of the events leading to Mr. Aristide's exile.

Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says South Africa joins the 15-nation Caribbean Community in expressing concern at the departure of a democratically-elected president.

Ms. Dlamini-Zuma said allegations that Mr. Aristide was forced from office may have serious consequences for democracy and the rule of law around the world.

Information for this report is provided by AFP and AP.

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