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Last Updated: Friday, 5 March, 2004, 08:40 GMT
Haiti's Aristide accuses France
Soldiers of the French Antilles Army patrol the streets of Port-au-Prince
France has sent around 600 troops to Haiti
Haiti's former President Jean Bertrand Aristide has accused Paris of colluding with the US to remove him from office.

In a phone conversation with a French writer Mr Aristide said he had not officially resigned and still planned to return home.

The US has denied Mr Aristide's claim that it forced him on to a plane.

South Africa is among those calling for an independent inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his flight from Haiti on Sunday.

The Caribbean regional body Caricom has also said Mr Aristide's allegations should be investigated.

US State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, rejected the calls, saying there was nothing to investigate.

Mystery

In the telephone conversation with Haiti specialist Claude Ribbe, Mr Aristide said that he had signed a document to "avoid a bloodbath" but that there was no formal resignation.

Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Aristide said he was the victim of a "political kidnapping"
The ousted president was speaking from the Central African Republic, from where it has been rumoured he will travel on to South Africa.

But he said any new destination would only be a step on a journey back to Haiti.

"I'm not the kind of person to stay in exile... If I have to make a stopover in South Africa, I will - before going back home."

The circumstances of Mr Aristide's departure have been shrouded in mystery since he left Haiti on Sunday.

The former president said he was the victim of a coup d'etat, forced to leave by "American agents".

Officials in the CAR now say Mr Aristide only knew of his destination 45 minutes before the plane touched down, and that he and his entourage were guarded by 60 US marines.

US Secretary of State Colin Powell strenuously denied the allegation, saying said Mr Aristide had gone into exile "willingly, and that's the truth".

South Africa has said that it sent a shipment of weapons to try and help Mr Aristide fight the rebels shortly before he was deposed.

Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota said the plane carrying arms landed in Jamaica and had been requested by Caricom. Reinforcements

In Haiti, a commission has been formed of government and opposition members as part of an international plan to end the crisis in the country.

The three-member commission is to begin selecting seven people who will serve on a council, which in turn will name a new prime minister and government.

More international troops and aid have arrived in the country.

The first contingent of 120 Chilean troops flew in to the capital Port-au-Prince to join forces from the US, Canada and France.

Brazil has announced it will send 1,100 troops to join the second phase of peacekeeping forces.

A spokesman for the Brazilian presidency said they would work under the UN forces, which are due in the country in about three months time.




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