The National Council of Churches of the United States has hailed the potential for peace in Haiti after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide left the country weeks after an anti-government rebellion.
Conflicting reports have emerged, however, about whether Mr. Aristide, a one-time Roman Catholic priest who had difficult relations with Washington, had been forced out by the U.S. He told the Associated Press news agency that he had been “forced to leave” under threat by U.S. troops, a claim that U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell rebutted as “absolutely baseless, absurd.”
In a statement, the NCC, the largest ecumenical agency in the U.S., said Mr. Aristide’s departure marked a “turn toward resolution” and “the possibility of peace” within Haiti.
“Multinational co-operation will be integral to the restoration of peace and security there,” the statement added, noting that it would be necessary for “churches and other civil society actors to help that country during this time of transition.”