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Hold off transition, Haitian prime minister says
Haiti's prime minister calls for an investigation of how Jean-Bertrand Aristide left the country. Aristide, meanwhile, wants to return.
Haitian Prime Minister Yvon Neptune on Thursday said choice of a new prime minister and a transition government should be delayed until allegations about the resignation of Jean-Bertrand Aristide can be put to rest.
The former president, who remains in the Central African Republic, told a French writer Thursday that he wants to return to Haiti but would go to South Africa if he must.
Neptune, speaking by telephone from his office in Port-au-Prince, where he is under U.S. Marines protection, told The Herald that if Aristide's resignation this weekend occurred under duress, then it was not constitutional.
His calls for an investigation and a delay of the current process echo those of the Caribbean Community, which is demanding an international inquiry, and Aristide himself, who on Thursday called for a U.S. congressional probe.
Aristide has alleged that he was kidnapped and forced to resign as Haiti's democratically elected president in a U.S.-inspired coup plot. U.S. officials deny the claims.
''There should be an investigation,'' said Neptune, who said he learned of Aristide's resignation only when provisional President Boniface Alexandre presented him with Aristide's signed resignation.
Earlier this week a three-member commission was named as part of the plan to choose a new prime minister.
Neptune named Leslie Voltaire, the minister for Haitians Living Abroad, to represent the government and the Lavalas Family Party.
''I have no control over the process,'' Neptune said. ``It is my position that . . . the process should be delayed.''
Ira Kurzban, a Miami lawyer who represents Aristide and the Haitian government, meanwhile said Neptune is under pressure by the international community to move quickly to help put a transition government in place in Haiti.
''The process that is ongoing in Haiti right now should be stopped immediately,'' Kurzban said at a news conference Thursday in Miami. ``The pressure that is being put on the prime minister is unconscionable. The demands to drive this thing as fast as possible to a fait accompli is unconscionable.''
Kurzban said he was speaking on behalf of Aristide and the Haitian government.
Agence France-Presse on Thursday reported that Aristide told Claude Ribbe, a French writer and Haiti specialist, that he wants to return to Haiti and that he would take a detour through South Africa if needed.
Kurzban declined to say whether he was negotiating with the South African government to take in Aristide.