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Ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide backed down from earlier demands and signed an accord late Saturday that would return him to office by Oct. 30.

Aristide signed the accord on Governors Island, where U.N.-mediated talks on ending Haiti's 21-month-old political crisis were held for a week.Haiti's military chief, Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras, signed the plan earlier in the day, then left immediately without comment to return to Haiti.

The agreement would end a political crisis that has battered the country since Aristide's overthrow in a bloody coup in September 1991.

Aristide, a Roman Catholic priest, spoke briefly as he left the signing ceremony.

"Peace and love to the Haitian people," he said. He thanked President Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, the U.N. and OAS mediators, and the four countries that pushed the process to its conclusion - the United States, Canada, Venezuela and France.

The agreement was delayed for nearly 12 hours as negotiators and Aristide's delegation worked out a side letter that would allow the United Nations to reimpose the embargo if it determines that human rights are not being respected by the military. Aristide also sought assurances in writing that the U.N. would guarantee his safety after he returns to Haiti.

The day began with Aristide rejecting the plan.

Diplomats at the talks said Aristide earlier demanded that all the officers who overthrew him in September 1991 be drummed out of the army. The U.N. plan called for him to appoint a new military chief of staff, who would then reassign those involved in the coup.

U.N. Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali and Vice President Al Gore called Aristide on Saturday to urge him to go along with the agreement, said Diego Arria, Venezuela's U.N. ambassador.

Cedras had insisted on retaining a role for the military, at least during a transition period. He finally agreed that the army high command and the chief of police, Col. Joseph Michel Francois, would step down as Aristide has demanded.

Aristide, accompanied by his delegation, signed the agreement late Saturday in a conference room in the U.S. Coast Guard Officers' Club.

U.N. and OAS delegates, Aristide's delegation and about two dozen other diplomats and witnesses applauded after the ceremony.

A copy of the side agreement was not available. Diplomats have said it asks the U.N. to monitor and verify the implementation of the agreement.

But diplomats said it required that human rights be respected in Haiti if the U.N. oil embargo is to be lifted.

Diplomats said a key test would be whether the military allows Aristide to address Haiti on national television to explain the accords. They said he would like to make the address in the next few days.

They also said another key test would come later after a new prime minister has been appointed by Aristide and confirmed by the parliament.



Accord highlights

1. Haitian political parts would meet under U.N. auspices, perhaps in Washington to lay the groundwork for a new government.

2. Aristide nominates a prime minister.

3. Parliament confirms prime minister, who takes office.

4. Security Council sanctions are suspended. They went into effect June 23 and bar oil and arms supplies and freeze financial assets abroad. i 5. Agreements on financial development aid, assistance for administrative and judicial reform and assistance to modernize the army and establish a new police force "with the presence of U.N. personnel in these fields."

6. Aristide grants amnesty under Article 147 of the constitution. The agreement does not specify who is granted amnesty, but it is presumed army officers who overthrew him in a September 1991 coup.

7. A civilian police force is created and Aristide appoints the commander.

8. Cedras resigns and Aristide appoints a new army chief who chooses members of his general staff.

9. Aristide returns to Haiti Oct. 30.

10. The United Nations and the OAS verify the above commitments have been met.