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Haiti Under State of Emergency - 2004-03-04


Haiti is under a state of emergency as authorities try to restore calm in the wake of the resignation and departure of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide earlier this week.

Prime Minister Yvon Neptune made the announcement Wednesday, as incidents of violence continued in the capital Port-au-Prince. The government also appointed Leonce Charles as the Caribbean nation's new police chief.

Police and rebels clashed with Aristide loyalists in at least one neighborhood of the city neighborhood. The French News Agency reported at least three people were killed in the clashes.

Rebel leader Guy Philippe said his men are ready to disarm. A rebel uprising that began four weeks ago led to Mr. Aristide's resignation.

The United States and other countries continue beefing up their security forces in Haiti to help protect key sites, including the airport and presidential palace.

Meanwhile, the 15-member Caribbean grouping known as CARICOM has called for an independent, international inquiry into Mr. Aristide's abrupt departure from Haiti on Sunday.

The CARICOM chairman, Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, says Mr. Aristide's departure from power sets what he called a very dangerous precedent, not only for Haiti, but for all democratically elected leaders and governments throughout the world.

The Caribbean leaders also say they will not provide troops for a multinational peacekeeping force in Haiti.

Mr. Aristide remains in Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic. It is not clear where he will eventually live in exile.

Mr. Aristide has accused the United States of forcing him to resign and then kidnapping him, but U.S. officials have strongly denied the accusations.

Information for this report is provided by AFP.

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