Exiled Haitian leader Jean-Bertrand Aristide and the military chief who ousted him will soon sit down for talks, a Security Council ambassador says.
Aristide agreed Tuesday to hold talks on restoring democracy, a day after the Haitian military commander, Gen. Raoul Cedras, agreed to meet with him.The development could be a major advance in ending the crisis that has gripped Haiti since September 1991, when Aristide, the country's first freely elected president, was overthrown seven months into his term.
Despite the progress, a U.N. oil and arms embargo against Haiti took effect as scheduled early Wednesday. The sanctions are the toughest international pressure yet on the military rulers to reinstate democratic rule.
Venezuelan Ambassador Diego Arria said Tuesday that U.N. envoy Dante Caputo, who has been trying to mediate talks to restore civilian rule to Haiti, is making final arrangements for a weekend meeting on the Dutch Caribbean islands of Aruba or Bonaire.
Caputo's aides failed to work out an agreement between Aristide and the Haitian military government Tuesday night on the precise site of the talks and planned to resume discussions Wednesday.
In Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, prominent leftist Max Sam said it appeared Cedras was forced to agree to talk with Aristide - a move he previously rejected - because of the June 8 resignation of the nominal civilian prime minister, Marc Bazin.
The army previously insisted Bazin should be the proper negotiator with Aristide.
"Bazin's resignation revealed the army's game, which has always been to prevent a solution to the problem. Now the army has to assume its responsibility," said Sam. "If international pressure is maintained, Cedras must go."
Aristide's negotiating team had stipulated several conditions for talks, including fixed dates for the return of Aristide and the resignation of top officials guilty of abusing human rights in Haiti.