PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Bill Clinton and U.N. Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon sought to refocus international attention on
Haiti with a visit Monday that they hope will lure more aid to keep
the impoverished country from sliding back into chaos.
The former U.S. president and the U.N. chief toured Haiti's
run-down capital and met with officials struggling with high food
prices and the enduring effects of four devastating 2008 storms.
The leaders called for more foreign aid and urged Haiti's weak
central government to take charge of its own development.
"We are here to mobilize international support ... but at the
same time, we expect the Haitian government" to do its part, Ban
told The Associated Press on Monday afternoon.
With both a critical, long-delayed donor's conference in
Washington and elections for 12 Senate seats scheduled in April,
the International Crisis Group and others have warned that Haiti's
leaders must both get billions of dollars in international aid and
better manage affairs at home or its short-lived period of
political calm will end.
Ban and Clinton met with President Rene Preval at the national
palace on Monday evening to discuss storm recovery, environmental
repair and economic assistance, including credit for farmers and
increasing textile production under the 2006 U.S. trade deal "HOPE
In a speech, Preval recounted the "three shocks" Haiti
experienced last year: high oil prices, high food prices and the
storms, which he said ruined a prime opportunity to lift Haiti out
"We now more than ever need the solidarity of the international
community," Preval said.
The Haitian president has faced growing criticism for an alleged
failure to lead, including not speaking out until nearly a week
into last April's food price riots. The unrest led to the ouster of
his prime minister, who was not replaced for months because of
"Preval said he's providing security, but every day people are
being robbed. The country is tired. We're going to make a better
choice next time," said Femil Ladouceur, a 19-year-old student
standing along the motorcade route.
Underscoring that tension, at least 1,000 supporters of ousted
former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas party
shouted outside the national palace during the meeting and held up
signs displaying the Creole pun "Ban Ki-moon, Ban m Titid" -
"Give me back Aristide." Earlier, hundreds demonstrated near the
airport as the dignitaries arrived, waving signs reading,
"Clinton, we need your help."
Lavalas candidates have all been disqualified from the elections
by the government. Some supporters are threatening to hamper voting
if they cannot participate.
Ban, Clinton and Haitian-American recording star Wyclef Jean met
with university scholarship recipients Monday afternoon to speak
about the environmental devastation that has made Haiti prone to
deadly tropical storms. Last year, storms killed nearly 800 people
and ravaged the struggling nation's economy.
"Haiti was (once on) the richest island in all of the Caribbean
... because of the natural resources, because of what God had put
into the land," Clinton told the students. "It can be again,
because of the resources in your mind and in your heart."
Clinton, who visited Haiti as president in 1995 and again in
2003, is popular among Haiti's urban poor because Aristide was
returned to power under his watch in 1994.