CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti – Rebel leader Guy Philippe said Wednesday his troops are ready to attack the Haitian capital but want to "give a chance to peace" and will hold off to see if President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (search) resigns.
Philippe told The Associated Press that the rebels also were taking a wait-and-see approach to proposals to end international peacekeepers to Haiti (search).
"If they do not attack the Haitian people, we won't attack them," he said. "If they come to help us to remove Mr. Aristide, they will be welcome."
Philippe estimated his rebel force had grown from a couple of hundred to 5,000 with new recruits and more ex-soldiers joining the three-week-old popular uprising to oust Aristide, and said they were ready to fight.
"We're ready. We just want to give a chance to peace," he said. "We're ready to talk to anyone. The only one the country doesn't want is Mr. Aristide."
Philippe has given various deadlines for his threatened attack on the city, most recently this coming Sunday, his 36th birthday.