Haiti Still Chaotic as Aristide Plans Jamaica Trip

Ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide will visit Jamaica next week, returning to the Caribbean for the first time since fleeing into exile in Africa, Jamaica's leader said as violence continued in Haiti.

A shootout erupted in Port-au-Prince between police and protesters demanding Aristide's return. Two men were killed and seven others wounded.

In Jamaica, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson (search) said Thursday that Aristide, who fled to Africa on Feb. 29 amid a bloody rebellion, would visit his country early next week and stay for eight to 10 weeks.

Aristide, now in the Central African Republic (search), will fly with his wife, Mildred, to be reunited with their two young daughters, Patterson said in Jamaica.

The girls were sent to New York City for their safety days before Aristide fled with rebels closing in on the capital and the United States and France, Haiti's former colonizer, pressing him to leave.

Trying to shore up a fragile peace, Haiti's new Prime Minister Gerard Latortue (search) began choosing a Cabinet on Thursday.

U.S. Marines also raided a house near the presidential palace in their first action of a mission to disarm Haiti's many rebel factions. The search produced no weapons, but "The message out of this is: We are looking, and we will continue to do so," U.S. Col. Charles Gurganus said.

Latortue, 69, a U.N. career officer and business consultant who arrived in Haiti on Wednesday after years in exile in Florida, said disarmament, reconciliation and eventually elections are his priorities.

But he wasn't welcomed by everybody.

"They've named a new prime minister who we don't know," protested Enock Lubin, 25. "It's an illegal act."

Hundreds of protesters marched Thursday through the downtown Belair neighborhood yelling, "Aristide has to come back! We don't want Bush as president!"

Shots were fired, some protesters pulled out pistols, police fired tear gas and a shootout between protesters and police ensued, witnesses said.

Two young men were killed and seven others were being treated for shotgun wounds, according to hospital officials.

In Port-au-Prince, opposition politician Paul Denis said Jamaica was making matters worse in Haiti. "If Aristide intends to come back to Haiti, we'll be glad to receive him so we can arrest him," he said.

The opposition wants Aristide to stand trial, accusing him of corruption and the killings of opponents by armed gangs.

A once-popular slum priest, Aristide was elected on promises to champion the poor but lost support as misery deepened and violence increased.

Patterson said Aristide would use his stay in Jamaica to finalize plans for "permanent residence outside of the region." Another Jamaican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said South Africa was Aristide's final destination.

Aristide could have another aim in Jamaica, where a summit of the 15-nation Caribbean Community (search) last week called for a U.N. investigation into his departure. Jamaica is 130 miles from Haiti.

That call was echoed Wednesday by the 53-nation African Union (search), which said his removal was "unconstitutional." The two blocs comprise nearly one-third of U.N. member states.

Aristide has said France and the United States forced him out of office and claims he is still Haiti's democratically elected leader. Washington denies forcing him out.

U.S. Ambassador James Foley told the British Broadcasting Corp. on Thursday that Aristide never said he didn't want to leave.

"He never said: 'I think you are wrong. I think your assessment is wrong. I'm going to stay. I'm going to ride it out,'" Foley said. "It was all about his departure."

Latortue stressed his neutrality, which led a U.S.-backed seven-member Council of Sages to appoint him prime minister.

"I came here with my mind open to work with everyone in Haiti," he said. "I'm not a member of any political party."

He has said he wants his Cabinet to include retired army Chief of Staff Herard Abraham, in charge of security, and businessman and former Aristide Prime Minister Smarck Michel as planning minister.

Abraham supports recreating Haiti's disgraced and disbanded army, a key rebel demand. Latortue said Aristide's disbanding of the army in 1995 may have been unconstitutional.

Disarmament will be the biggest challenge, and Latortue stressed the need for cooperation from international peacekeepers — led by 1,600 U.S. Marines and including nearly 1,000 French troops. The contingent also includes forces from Chile.