Rebel fighters at gates of Haitian capital

Artykuły


Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"

Forces opposed to President Aristide under orders to take him alive to face trial

Sibylla Brodzinsky in Cap-Haitien
Friday February 27, 2004
The Guardian

Rebel forces in Haiti were yesterday converging on the capital, Port-au-Prince, waiting for the order to attack. "We've decided to go toward Port-au-Prince. They're on their way," said Guy Philippe, the rebel leader whose forces have overrun half of the country. "They're taking their places. They know what to do."
The rebels would arrest President Jean-Bertrand Aristide if he did not resign, Mr Philippe added.
The US secretary of state, Colin Powell, meanwhile yesterday openly questioned whether Mr Aristide could continue to serve effectively as Haiti's leader.
"Whether or not he is able to effectively continue as president is something he will have to examine carefully in the interests of the Haitian people," Mr Powell told reporters. It was the closest he had come to suggesting that Mr Aristide bow out as president before his elected term ends in February 2006.
The UN security council was to hold an emergency meeting on the Haiti situation yesterday, after the French foreign minister, Dominique de Villepin, called for the immediate deployment of an international security force.
Mr Philippe said the rebels would welcome an international peacekeeping force as long as Mr Aristide was no longer in power. "If it comes to protect the Haitian people, we will give all the help we can. But if they come to obligate us to accept a dictatorship, I'd rather die."
At the poolside restaurant of a hotel overlooking the Caribbean in Haiti's second city, Cap-Haitien, where he was once police chief, the rebel leader said that if it were up to him alone, he would go to Port-au-Prince "tomorrow". He was anxious to get his troops moving but he also wanted to avoid a bloodbath.
Appearing relaxed and confident, he said: "We know Port-au-Prince won't be that easy; there might be a lot of casualties." The rebel movement claimed to have sleeper cells in the capital, which would be reinforced by fighters from towns to the north of the city.
"It won't take a lot of days. We don't have all our lives to wait for what a dictator is going to do," Mr Phillipe said in a separate interview with the Associated Press. "They're awaiting the order."
Their mission was to head for the National Palace, the presidential seat, and Mr Aristide's private residence in Tabarre, on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince, to "arrest Aristide, just arrest him".
"I don't want him to die. It would be too easy. He has to pay for what he has done to the Haitian people," Mr Philippe said.
He returned from exile in neighbouring Dominican Republic two weeks ago to lead the revolt sparked by armed gangs in the city of Gonaives.
Sensing a possible shift in the international community, which at first insisted that Mr Aristide stay in power, Mr Philippe said the rebels were willing to "give peace some days", hoping the president would cave in to pressure and quit.
Despite a death toll nearing 70 in the three weeks since opposition forces began the rebellion against President Aristide, Mr Philippe said he and his men "don't want violence".
In Port-au-Prince, members of an EU delegation and families of UN workers were escorted by American security officials from the UN compound the capital to the airport for evacuation. In the country's largest hospital in the city, representatives of the aid agency Médecins du Monde were taking stock of the facilities and supplies, asking what was needed to face a huge influx of wounded.
As they await a possible negotiated removal of the president, the rebels, now grouped under the name National Resistance Front, are gathering forces and weapons to take the capital.
"We know where we can find the pockets of resistance [in Port-au-Prince]. We are compiling our intelligence and when we strike we will strike these pockets of resistance, not the civilians," Mr Philippe said.
Volunteers
He said the rebels were recruiting as many as 2,000 additional volunteers for training in the areas under their control. Louis-Jodel Chamblain, a former army sergeant and leader of death squads in the 1980s and 90s, said: "We're ready. We are a very well-trained force, well equipped to do this battle."
Mr Chamblain carried an M16 automatic rifle as he patrolled Cap Haitien's looted and gutted airport, but his security squad had an array of old 12-gauge shotguns, and rusty Galil rifles, and wore an odd assortment of gear.
Mr Aristide has said the rebels are being financed by revenue from drug trafficking but Mr Philippe - accused of being a trafficker himself - denies it, claiming funds for the revolt are being wired in by Haitians in the US, Canada and France.
In Cap-Haitien the police headquarters and courthouse are burned-out shells; they were damaged in the rebel attack and subsequent looting. Although the city is largely peaceful and people appear to go about their daily lives, sporadic violence continues. On Wednesday, a man said to be an Aristide supporter was shot and his home set ablaze. He later died.
The rebel leaders say they have no political aspirations, confounding Haiti's long history of military dictatorships.
"I'm not interested in politics," said Mr Philippe, adding that if a new government asked him to help with security he would, but otherwise he would go home to his father's farm in southern Haiti.
The rebels say a new government would be led by the president of the supreme court, as stipulated by the constitution when the presidency is vacant. Mr Philippe believes there would be fresh elections in one and a half to two years.
If Mr Aristide refused to leave power peacefully, Mr Philippe said he should be imprisoned and tried. "He has to be judged. We want to see him in prison so he can suffer as he made so many suffer."
Mr Aristide, wildly popular when elected, has lost the support of many Haitians who have not seen their lives improve under his government. He is also accused of being behind armed gangs who attack opponents.
Mr Philippe is accused of plotting a coup against Mr Aristide in 2000. Mr Chamblain was convicted and sentenced in absentia to life imprisonment for his role in a 1994 raid on a slum in Gonaives and for the 1993 assassination of an Aristide ally.

an array of – wachlarz
bloodbath – rozlew krwi
To bow out – przestać pracować, ustapić
casualties – ofiary
to cave in – ugiąć się
compound – zamknięty teren
to confound – wprawiać w zakłopotanie
To Converge on – zbierać się
deployment – rozmieszczenie
death toll – liczba ofiar, żniwo
drug trafficking – przemyt narkotyków
exile – wygnanie, emigracja
gutted – zniszczony
influx – napływ
looting – grabież
outskirts – peryferie
To Overrun – opanowywać
pockets of resistance – ogniska/obszary oporu
revenues – zyski
sentenced in absentia – skazany zaocznie
to set ablaze – podpalić
sleeper cells – szpiedzy, którzy uaktywnią się po dłuższym czasie ukrywania się
to stipulate – określać, ustalać
subsequent - późniejszy


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