Caribbean Leaders Don't Accept Haiti Gov't
Sat Mar 27, 1:37 PM ETBy BERT WILKINSON, Associated Press Writer
BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - The 15-nation Caribbean Community withheld recognition from Haiti's U.S.-backed interim government Saturday as leaders closed a summit renewing calls for a U.N. investigation into the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Leaders said they would take up the issue of whether to recognize the government again at a summit in July in Grenada.
"We can't determine this issue at this meeting," Trinidad Prime Minister Patrick Manning said. He added that discussions were "quite tense."
Several officials said the regional bloc was under enormous U.S. pressure to recognize the new government, which was appointed after Aristide fled on Feb. 29 amid a popular uprising.
"Right now we are not satisfied," St. Vincent Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said at the close of the two-day summit. "We are going to watch and see a number of things as they evolve."
The leaders also lamented recent statements by Haiti's Prime Minister Gerard Latortue hailing rebels as "freedom fighters" and saying he was freezing participation in the regional bloc for its stance in bringing Aristide to Jamaica for temporary exile.
The participating Caribbean leaders issued a statement early Saturday saying "no action should be taken to legitimize the rebel forces."
They said while Haiti remains a "welcome partner" in the Caribbean Community, "there has been an interruption of the democratic process."
The leaders said they would ask the U.N. General Assembly or Secretary-General Kofi Annan ( - ) to oversee an investigation into Aristide's claims he was abducted at gunpoint by U.S. agents when he left Feb. 29 as rebels threatened to attack Haiti's capital.
The 11 heads of government attending said it is in the international community's "compelling interest" to fully investigate the circumstances of Aristide's departure.
Delegates said the bloc wants the General Assembly to investigate Aristide's departure rather than the Security Council, where the United States or France could veto the proposal.