Aristide Flees Haiti
Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, faced with an armed rebellion and pressure from the United States and France, left Haiti this morning, according to numerous reports.
Administration officials and a spokeswoman for the French Foreign Ministry, confirmed the departure to wire services.
“The administration believes Aristide made the right decision for the Haitian people by resigning,” a senior U.S. official said in Washington, according to reports.
Aristide, a hero of Haitian democracy in the 1980s, left 24 days after the start of a bloody uprising by armed rebels determined to unseat him.
It was unclear who was in charge in Haiti. A contingent of 50 U.S. Marines are in Haiti to protect the U.S. Embassy. Another 2,000 are reportedly ready to be dispatched to the country if necessary.
Aristide’s whereabouts were uncertain this morning. Unconfirmed reports had him being flown out on a corporate-type jet.
In Cap-Haitien, the northern port that has become a base for the rebels, there were reports of crowds dancing and singing in the streets.
The U.S. has been steadily raising pressure on Aristide during the uprising. In a statement Saturday, White House spokesman Scott McClellan directly blamed Aristide for the current crisis, saying “this long-simmering crisis is largely of Mr. Aristide’s making.”
According to the AP,
There were reports Aristide signed a letter of resignation before he left, which would open the way for Supreme Court Chief Justice Boniface Alexandre to take power. Such a move would require approval by the Haitian parliament, which has not had power since early this year after the terms of most legislators expired.