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Archive for Saturday, March 13, 2004

Former exile sworn in as new leader of Haiti

March 13, 2004

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— Former Haitian exile Gerard Latortue was sworn in Friday as the country's prime minister, promising to unite the country after months of bloodshed and political strife that led to the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Under heavy security, Latortue took the oath of office in front of a crowd of 200 people, saying he was happy to serve his country.

"This is an occasion for hope for all Haitians," he said. "Together we will form a responsible government that respects its institutions, and I will see that every dollar given to development projects will be well spent."

Latortue, 69, is a former U.N. official and business consultant who arrived Wednesday in Haiti after living in Florida.

He spent much of the 29-year Duvalier family dictatorship, which ended in 1986, in exile. He became foreign minister in 1988 for former President Leslie Manigat, who was toppled in a military coup.

Earlier, Latortue told pro-Aristide politicians that he wants to have legislative elections in six to eight months, Cabinet Minister Leslie Voltaire said. He also criticized Jamaica's decision to play host to ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was expected to return to the region early next week from exile in Africa.

Latortue said Aristide was no longer Haiti's leader, dampening speculation that the former leader's trip might lead to negotiations for the his return.

Aristide, who fled on Feb. 29, insists he remains Haiti's legitimate president.

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