Haiti stumbles despite support from U.S., U.N.

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A U.S. Embassy spokesman who asked to remain anonymous said Washington pays “technical advisers” to work in several “key ministries” and the prime minister’s office.

“This interim government would have fallen without the United States,” said Leslie Voltaire, a Cabinet member under Mr. Aristide who was part of a three-member commission that helped form the interim government in March last year.

“The United States has subcontracted Brazil for security and Canada for economic development. But they’re all reporting to Washington. The final decisions are made there,” Mr. Voltaire said.

Damian Onses-Cardona, a spokesman for the U.N. mission in Haiti, denies that the United States exerts more influence over the peacekeeping force than other countries.

“On all the big issues — security, stability, elections — everybody agrees on what needs to be done,” Mr. Onses-Cardona said.

Election concerns

Despite Washington’s support, the interim government has been unable to avoid stumbling toward elections.

Even before Mr. Latortue’s acknowledgment yesterday, a member of Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council had said the election date might have to be pushed back. The council opened a voter registration center in Cite Soleil, the most populous slum in Port-au-Prince, only last week.

Haiti’s police force has been accused of numerous high-profile killings and human rights abuses, including the slaying of at least eight persons during a USAID-sponsored “Play for Peace” soccer match in August.

Haitians not on the U.S. payroll complain of continually worsening conditions, especially rising prices and lack of jobs.

“It is not so much that results have not met expectations, but that achievements need to be consolidated and expanded to combat political instability, poverty and unemployment,” said the U.S. Embassy spokesman.

“Violence has also slowed or inhibited the implementation of projects in slum neighborhoods. In particular, providing assistance in the area of Cite Soleil has been difficult.”

Although the United States has been a strong supporter of the interim government, American officials have gone out of their way to express concern about the imprisonment of two Aristide allies, former Prime Minister Yvon Neptune and the Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste.

Considered “a prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International, Father Jean-Juste, a Catholic priest, was prevented from running for president in the elections by not being allowed to go to the election council to register his candidacy. He was chosen by Lavalas, Haiti’s most powerful political force.

During her visit to Haiti, Miss Rice told Mr. Latortue, “Justice has to come in a timely fashion, and it should not be the case that anyone can interpret that there is some kind of political motive here.”

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