PARIS, March 1 (Xinhuanet) -- The crisis in Haiti seemed to come to a pause
with the departure of its ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the deployment
of a multinational force approved by the United Nations.
Aristide, Haiti's first democratically-elected president since
its independence in 1804, resigned and flew into exile Sunday under mounting
pressure from rebels, the opposition and the international community following a
three-week rebellion that has ravaged the Caribbean nation.
France dispatched 300 troops to Haiti on Monday after the UN Security
Council voted unanimously for the deployment of a multinational force to restore
law and order there. Some 300 American Marines arrived in the Haitian capital of
Port-au-Prince earlier in the day.
Does it mean a "perfect coordination" between Paris and Washington as
praised by French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin?
"The dialogue with the United States since the start of the crisis in Haiti
was conducted in an excellent atmosphere and the departure of President Aristide
was the result of perfect coordination between the two governments," de Villepin
told reporters in Tokyo on Monday.
France was the first to propose sending an international peacekeeping force
to the violence-wrecked country and openly called for Aristide's resignation on
Feb. 27 at a meeting between Foreign Minister de Villepin and Haitian government
representatives in Paris.
"It is more important than ever that the Haitians work to put in place a
government of national unity and transition which will be in charge of working
for national reconciliation in conformity with the plan of action defined by the
Caribbean Community," said Herve Ladsous, spokesman of
the French Foreign Ministry.
Franch forces arrive
France's active involvement resulted from its historical and geographical
links with Haiti, a former French colony in the Caribbean Sea, where the two
French overseas provinces of Guadeloupe and Martinique are also located.
As a French-speaking country with an area of less than 30,000 square km and
a population of 8 million, Haiti was among the first to gain independence from
France 200 years ago. It is astonishing that there are now 100,000 Haitians
living in its two Caribbean territories, compared with 20,000 in 1990.
It is well remembered that the French Defense Ministry dismissed on Feb. 19
a French deployment project after US Secretary of State Colin Powell announced
that Washington had no plan for an international intervention following his
telephone conversations with his French counterpart on the issue.
US hesitation contrasted sharply not only with France's willingness but
also with its 1994 intervention in Haiti when it sent a 20,000-strong force to
help put Aristide back to office following a coup.
In fact, differences between the US Democrats and Republicans led to
Washington's prudence to launch a humanitarian interventionin Haiti, which is
only 900 km away from the US state of Florida.
An African-American lobby backs Aristide while the Republicans favor his
opponents, who accused the embattled president of breaking promises to help the
poor, allowing corruption fueled by drug-trafficking and masterminding attacks
on opponents by armed gangs.
Facing the upcoming presidential election, Washington is unlikely to give
asylum to Haitian refugees. Some 500 Haitians trying to flee their country were
forced back Friday by the US Coast Guard.
If Paris acted for the need to prevent a humanitarian disaster in Haiti,
Washington can be said to follow suit reluctantly as it would not allow France
to take charge in its own backyard.
"The US logic is one of great prudence when it comes to humanitarian
intervention. France acts on the basis that there is a risk of humanitarian
tragedy," said a Paris-base analyst.
However, called by the French newspaper Le Monde as a "model of coordinated
action," the US-French intervention in Haiti offered achance for the two
countries to mend their ties soured by their disputes over the Iraq war. Enditem