- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 8, 2002

Violence in Haiti

The Organization of American States is calling on Haiti to re-establish public order in the country's fourth-largest city after rioting that freed a political militant from jail.

OAS Secretary-General Cesar Gaviria denounced the upheaval in Gonaives and warned that the violence threatens to deepen a political crisis that began in December.

"The troubling developments in Gonaives complicate an already uncertain situation in Haiti and make it even more difficult to resolve the political crisis there," he said in a statement released by the OAS in Washington.

"It is imperative that the authorities re-establish public order and that all citizens recognize that the rule of law must prevail."

Mr. Gaviria urged Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to recapture Amiot Metayer, freed by supporters who rammed a bulldozer into the jail on Friday. More than 150 other prisoners also escaped. Gunmen burned the Gonaives city hall and courthouse. Soldiers were patrolling the streets yesterday, but protesters have threatened to renew their demonstrations.

Mr. Metayer, a former supporter of Mr. Aristide, blames the president for failing to address Haiti's oppressive poverty. Mr. Metayer has been implicated in the Dec. 17 uprising against Mr. Aristide's political opponents. He was arrested last month after violent clashes with a rival leader in Gonaives.

"The new wave of violence and confusion in Gonaives are of extreme concern to the international community as it continues its efforts to help Haiti bring an end to its political crisis and regain some stability," Mr. Gaviria said.


Envoy tackling debt

The ambassador of the Ivory Coast hopes to get his embassy out of debt by December and begin the reconstruction of the mission on Embassy Row.

Ambassador Pascal Kokora has reduced the debt from $411,000 to $60,000 since he took charge of the embassy in November 2001.

"It was a simple question of resource management," he said in the latest edition of the embassy's newsletter. He said his goal is to make the embassy debt-free by the end of the year and then begin repairs to the building at 3412 Massachusetts Ave. NW.

Mr. Kokora is a former associate professor of African Francophone studies at Georgetown University.


Watching Indonesia

The U.S. ambassador to Indonesia believes the country has made progress on legal reform but warned Indonesian leaders that the world is monitoring the trials of defendants accused of human rights abuses in East Timor.

Ambassador Ralph Boyce told reporters yesterday that Indonesia should not assume that the United States has normalized relations just because Secretary of State Colin L. Powell announced, on his visit last week, a $50 million U.S. grant for anti-terrorism training.

"It's very important for our Indonesian friends not to misread the signs and to somehow assume that we have accomplished the resumption of normal military-to-military relations," Mr. Boyce said.

The United States cut most military ties with Indonesia after pro-government militias backed by the army killed more than 1,000 civilians during East Timor's campaign for independence in 1999.

"We are watching the process very carefully and look forward to seeing what immediate results will be in the first round," Mr. Boyce said, referring to the trials of defendants accused of abuses in East Timor.

"The timing of the first round of cases that are coming to a conclusion now by definition is going to carry a great deal of weight, and as I have said many times the world is watching."

Mr. Boyce said Indonesia has made progress against government corruption, citing many high-profile trials.

"It's not an easy task, but in the last year the Indonesian government has done more to root out corruption than at any time in Indonesia's history," he said.

He also defended the United States against criticism that it is ignoring human rights in its pursuit of terrorists.

"I honestly believe that attention to the promotion of democracy and human rights is even more important in the war on terrorism," he said.

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