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3/26/04 - HAITI OPERATION - 2004-03-26

More than three-thousand troops from the U.S., Canada, Chile, and France are now in Haiti as part of “Operation Secure Tomorrow.” They are there to stabilize conditions in Haiti and prepare the way for a United Nations peacekeeping force.

The main mission of the Multilateral Interim Force is to restore order so that Haiti’s people can resume normal activities in a secure environment. Boniface Alexandre is Haiti’s interim president. He says that the new Haitian government “will do its utmost to plant the seeds, to establish the foundation of democracy so that it will germinate and grow and become strong.”

Frandley Denis-Julien is leader of the Citizens’ Initiative, a Haitian-based civic group. He says that with the departure of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti has an opportunity to develop the institutions necessary to support a democratic system:

“We have to move from the importance of personality in politics to the importance of ideas in political debates. And I think that we have to introduce, for the first time ever in our history, the culture of accountability. And actually, there are a group of lawyers. . .who are working to build the case [against] the former regime. For the first time, we have to see these people before the judges to answer about the way they managed the country, the way they destroyed all the institutions.”

Condoleezza Rice, U.S. national security adviser, says, “The Haitian people need to move forward”:

“There is a new president. There is a new prime minister. There’s a new chief of police. There is an eminent persons council that is trying to guide that process.”

U-N officials say that Haitian markets have food, and that humanitarian aid is reaching all regions of the country. The U.S. and other countries are committed to helping Haiti. Indeed, the U.S. has provided over eight-hundred-fifty million dollars in aid to Haiti over the last decade. And the U.S. plans to provide at least fifty-five million dollars this year, in addition to three-million dollars in emergency aid since February 18th. Observers say it will be a long-term process. But ultimately, the emergence of a democratic Haiti is up to the Haitian people and the leaders they elect.