WASHINGTON -- Haitian Prime Minister Robert Malval announced Monday he would stay on in an acting capacity past his planned Dec. 15 resignation to help revitalize stalled efforts to restore exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power.
Malval made the announcement at a news conference in Washington, where he had traveled to formally submit his resignation to Aristide.
U.S. President Bill Clinton, meeting later at the White House with Aristide and Malval, hailed the decision and said the United States fully supported what he called a new 'Haitian initiative.'
Clinton summoned the two leaders to the late evening conference to discuss the new effort, which is aimed at jumpstarting a democratic process stalled by a balky military. The situation has caused frustration for the U.S. administration as its efforts, including the recent dispatch of U.S. engineers as part of a United Nations rebuilding effort, were recently thwarted and U.S. warships turned back from Haiti.
The United States and United Nations now are relying on stiff economic sanctions to force adherance to the Governor's Island agreement, which among other things set out the return of Aristide. Aristide was ousted from power Sept. 31, 1991 by a military coup led by armed forces chief Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras, who signed the Governor's Island accord.
'I want to reaffirm the support of the United States for the democratic impulses of Haiti and for the return of President Aristide,' Clinton told reporters.
He also hailed Malval for the decision to stay on 'as acting prime minister and try to revitalize the talks in Haiti within the framework of the Governor's Island agreement.'
'The United States will support this Haitian initiative,' he added, and work to win support for it in the United Nations and the Organization of American States, where he said he expected no opposition.
The meeting occurred after Malval announced he would go forward as planned with submitting his resignation Dec. 15 but with the surprise word that he had agreed to stay on to spearhead the new diplomatic effort.
He told reporters there would be little difference before and after his resignation, except that as acting prime minister he would no longer have to report to Parliament.
Malval called the new effort a 'gathering for national salvation' open to all interested parties to find a way to implement the Governor's Island Accords. He proposed a round of talks in Port-au-Prince that would include 'all basic groups' such as the military, private business, the church, political parties and members of Parliament.
And he said it would follow the outlines of the accord signed in July that called for the replacement of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and the high command's restructuring, both of which have been blocked.
Of greatest consternation to the exiled government and the United States has been the refusal by Cedras to step down in October as agreed but Malval said Cedras now seemed in 'a mood for compromise.'
Aristide has refused to return to Haiti until Cedras departs.