Defense Secretary William Perry, saying he expects deposed Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to return to his Caribbean homeland next month, insisted Saturday Haiti's military chief leave the country.
Perry and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. John Shali-kash-vili flew from Washington to visit 14,000 U.S. troops that have landed in Haiti since Monday to pave the way for Aristide's return to office.U.S. soldiers entered Haiti peacefully after a last-minute deal was hammered out Sunday between former President Jimmy Carter and military chief Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras.
The deal, which averted an all-out U.S. invasion, states Haitian military rulers, including Cedras, should step down by Oct. 15.
"The agreement we made with him (Cedras) does not require him to leave, but we believe he should and we believe that he will," Perry told reporters before returning to Washington.
But Cedras, citing the Haitian constitution's ban on exile, insisted Wednesday he would remain in the country.
The defense secretary said he expected the "overwhelming" U.S. presence would act as a deterrent to violence and allow the Aristide government to return.
"The last time I spoke to (Aristide), he was anxious to get back and he planned to get back as soon as possible after Oct. 15," Perry said. "I think it will be very soon after that."
At an airport news conference before returning to the United States, Perry said U.S. troops would intervene to protect Haitian lives. "Our forces have instructions that if they see an overreaction they should take action," he said.
During their daylong visit, Perry and Shali-kash-vili lunched with troops aboard the aircraft carrier America visited Marines in the coastal city of Cap-Haitien.