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14 novembre 2004

PORT-AU-PRINCE : Interim Haitian Prime Minister Gerard Latortue complained on Friday about the slow rate of delivery of 1.4 billion dollars of aid pledged by international donors at a conference in Washington in July.

« Until now, nothing has reached us, and all has been promised, » Latortue told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa in an interview in Port-au-Prince. « There is an enormous delay in the disbursement. This tardiness has been denounced by everybody. »

Latortue, who was appointed interim prime minister after the ouster of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February, said he expected aid to start trickling in by year’s end so that Haiti can begin major reconstruction projects in early 2005.

After political violence and disarray rocked Haiti early this year, the Caribbean nation was struck by two natural disasters. In May, heavy rains killed more than 1,500 people, and a tropical storm during the hurricane season claimed at least another 1,800 lives and destroyed thousands of homes.

Since the end of September, Aristide supporters have renewed political violence and dozens have been killed, particularly in Haiti’s restive capital.

Latortue placed the blame for the unrest on Aristide, who is living as an exile in South Africa.

« Aristide wants to destabilize the country. Aristide does not want elections to be organized, » he said.

Latortue said that other gangs, such as ones linked to international drug traffickers, were also contributing to the strife.

« Aristide is not the only one responsible for the violence, but he is certainly the best organized. He pays people to destabilize, » Latortue said.

The interim prime minister, appointed on March 9, claimed the central government is slowly but surely recovering control of Haiti, where bands of armed thugs continued to roam the country after Aristide’s departure.

He said that after a few initial problems, coordination between the national police and the United Nations peacekeeping forces was working smoothly.

Regarding the economic situation of the poorest country in the Americas, Latortue, a 70-year-old trained economist formerly based in Miami, said certain progress had been made.

« For the first time in Haiti the budget has been voted on on time. State revenues are increasing and corruption is going down, » he said.

Latortue added that Haiti has a great potential for development.

« We have enormous land reserves for touristic development. Furthermore there is an abundant and cheap labour force. We also have access to the U.S. market, » he said.-


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