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White House 'actively engaged' in Haiti peace efforts

By John King
CNN Washington Bureau

Protesters take to the streets in Haiti.
Protesters take to the streets in Haiti.

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Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is vowing to fight to the end to protect democracy and his regime.
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The White House said Friday it is "actively engaged" in the effort to peacefully resolve the political crisis in Haiti and called on President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to honor past commitments to give opposition movements a greater voice in the government.

The Bush administration's involvement is through the Organization of American States, which has drafted a plan to present to Aristide and his political opponents, White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told reporters.

"We are actively engaged in ongoing diplomatic efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution to the situation in Haiti," he said.

He declined to discuss details of the OAS plan, but other sources say it calls for an end to the violence and a commitment from Aristide to give opposition forces a greater role in the government. McClellan would not say if the United States would seek a deadline for Aristide to act, saying such a discussion was premature.

The OAS plan supports Aristide as the democratically elected leader of Haiti, although the U.S. ambassador to the organization blamed Aristide for corruption and efforts to silence political opposition.

Thursday, a senior State Department official announced that a multinational team will travel to Haiti Saturday to discuss a plan to calm the turbulence there.(Full story)

A rebellion erupted February 5 in Gonaives and the rebels have been most active in the North. Former Aristide supporters have joined with their once sworn enemies -- paramilitary and military leaders who had supported the former military dictatorship -- to oust Aristide. These forces returned from exile in the Dominican Republic just a few days ago and are believed to be heavily armed.


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