BBC Caribbean
13 November, 2004

Haiti to issue Aristide warrant

The interim government in Haiti says it is planning to issue a warrant for the arrest of the former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Mr Aristide has been in exile in South Africa since he was forced from power in a rebellion earlier this year.

Since June, a United Nations peace mission has been struggling to bring Haiti under control.

Haiti's interim prime minister, Gerard Latortue, said the warrant would accuse Mr Aristide of corruption.

"This is something we should have done a long time ago and the time has come," said Mr Latortue, calling on the international community, particularly Washington and Paris, to cooperate with Haiti's interim authorities in the fight against corruption.

The charges refer to Mr Aristide's turbulent three years in power, but the real motivation is almost certainly more recent events.

Deepening rifts

The Haitian interim government has denounced Mr Aristide for financing a wave of unrest in his strongholds in the capital, Port-au-Prince.

At least 80 people have died in the violence, which Mr Aristide's supporters say was started by police brutality.

It is not clear when the warrant will actually be issued - Mr Latortue said the Justice Ministry has been working on it for two months.

But news that it is on the way will make the peace process in Haiti even harder.

Any move against Mr Aristide will anger his radical loyalists, and probably stop his political representatives joining talks about holding elections next year - as the UN wants.

The announcement will also deepen Haiti's diplomatic rift with South Africa, where Mr Aristide has been given red-carpet treatment.