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OAS moves to probe Haiti coup

The Organization of American States (OAS) will investigate the ousting of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Washington and Haiti's new government opposed, as Brazil, Chile, Argentina and other South American countries send peacekeeping troops.

The Organization of American States (OAS) has ordered an investigation on the ousting of former Haiti President Jean Bertrand Aristide, as called for immediate elections in the Caribbean nation. OAS rule was a serious defeat for US diplomacy, which opposed –together with current Haitian authorities- to any clarification on what happened on February 29, when the constitutional president of Haiti was taken to the Central African Republic as rebel forced advanced toward the capital.

At the same time, more troops from Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and other Latin American nations has been dispatched to Haiti to join UN peacekeeping mission led by Brazil.

Last week the OAS general assembly meeting in Ecuador's capital approved a resolution noting Aristide's ousting was unconstitutional and allowing an assessment of what occurred.  Aristide has accused the US of forcing him from office, a charge Washington denies. A US-supplied jet flew Aristide to the Central African Republic on February 29 as rebels advanced on the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince, and he is now in asylum in South Africa.

OAS members invoked article 20 of the OAS charter, which allows it to undertake a "collective assessment" of a country "in the event of unconstitutional alterations of the constitutional regime that seriously impairs the democratic order". Diplomats also praised for democracy in Haiti and the end of corruption in the Caribbean nation.

In a resolution the foreign ministers urged "the transitional government in Haiti to create conditions conducive to the holding of free, fair and democratic elections in Haiti as soon as possible".

The decision to send troops to Haiti followed angry debates in most Latin American countries, as many believe it releases Washington of its responsibilities in a country several times occupied by US forces. However, in most of these nations, concerns about a possible bloodshed in Haiti prevailed and parliaments voted to send peacekeeping troops under UN command.

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