Published January 14, 2015
Haiti's interim prime minister accused ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (search) of directing a wave of violence from exile, while 95 Chinese police arrived Sunday to participate in their first U.N. peacekeeping mission in the Western Hemisphere.
The Chinese police joined an overextended peacekeeping force that has struggled to keep order as violence has surged in Port-au-Prince, with at least 55 people killed in clashes since Sept. 30, when supporters of the ousted leader took to the streets to demand his return.
Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue (search) also said the South African government, which is hosting Aristide, was violating international law by letting the former president organize Haiti's ongoing violence while in exile. Aristide has denied any links to violence in Haiti.
Aristide "is the symbol of violence. He believes in that," Latortue told reporters, adding that South African President Thabo Mbeki (search) is "taking a big risk" in his actions involving Aristide.
"No respectable president would allow a person in his territory to organize violence in another country," Latortue said, without giving specifics. "Mr. Mbeki is not respecting international law."
The South African government had no immediate response.
Aristide has accused France and the United States of "kidnapping" him when he left the Caribbean country on a U.S.-chartered plane Feb. 29 amid a bloody revolt. France and the United States deny the accusations.
Latortue spoke after laying a wreath at the tomb of independence hero Jean-Jacques Dessalines on the 198th anniversary of his death. Dessalines' battle cry against French colonizers was "Cut off their heads and burn down their houses!"
Some Haitians said they feared the anniversary could spark more violence, but the capital appeared largely calm, with street merchants selling bread and church-bound families wearing dresses and neckties as they walked through trash-strewn streets.
Aristide backers say the police started the bloodshed some two weeks ago, while the government blames Aristide militants and a terror campaign dubbed "Operation Baghdad."
Police reportedly killed two protesters on Sept. 30 and the bodies of three beheaded police were found the next day.
Latortue charged that Aristide "knows how to kill" and "how to arm young people — 12, 13, 14 years old." He also said that when Aristide stayed in Jamaica for 11 weeks earlier this year, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson "did not let Aristide organize violence."
The 95 Chinese police joined more than 3,000 U.N. peacekeepers in a Brazilian-led force that was supposed to have 8,000 members. U.N. officials say more troops should join soon.
Thirty more Chinese police arrived earlier. They are to help to train Haitian police and provide security.
While Latortue and interim President Boniface Alexandre (search) laid the wreath in honor of Dessalines near the National Palace, streets in the nearby slum of Bel Air were still blocked by torched cars and scrap metal put there in recent days by Aristide loyalists.
Haitian police and Jordanian riot police from the U.N. force tried to clear roadblocks Saturday in Bel Air but came under heavy gunfire and quickly withdrew, witnesses said.
Among those at roadblocks Sunday were two 10-year-old boys who sang a song demanding Aristide's return.
One who gave his name only as Sonson added: "I'd like Americans to come here so we can fill them with bullets because it's Americans who came and took Aristide from us."
Gunfire often erupts in the slum. A man wearing a camouflage shirt at another Bel Air roadblock said he was commemorating Dessalines by "saying 'no' to the occupation... and to the kidnapping of our president."
The man, who refused to give his name, demanded the release of dozens detained in the violence and said: "If, by Tuesday, the government has not responded to our demands, we will respond in the strongest way possible."