Haiti's new prime minister has selected a government that excludes ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas Family party, it was reported today, raising fears of renewed political tension in the Caribbean state.
Gerard Latortue's 13-member cabinet was to be sworn in today, his aides said after a meeting with interim President Boniface Alexandre.
None of the 13 ministries was handed to members of the Lavalas Family party. The move is likely to rekindle anger among Aristide supporters, already galvanised by his proximity 185km from Haiti in Jamaica, where he has moved after his initial period of asylum in the Central African Republic.
Mr Latortue's predecessor, Yvon Neptune, warned that the decision to freeze Lavalas out of government could further polarise Haiti, which is still reeling from an armed rebellion that led to Mr Aristide's forced resignation last month.
Mr Neptune said: "There should at least be a sincere expression of accepting Lavalas as an organisation. The plan was to try to set the stage for reconciliation."
After Mr Neptune resigned on March 10, Mr Latortue pledged to include members of the Lavalas Family party - which still enjoys wide support - in a unity government.
But Mr Latortue said today no political parties were represented in the lineup, and that the Lavalas Family party had not presented any candidates.
"Had there been an organisation that sponsored a Lavalas member, I would have been happy. But there weren't any," he told Reuters.
The new cabinet includes Yvon Simeon as foreign minister; Henri Bazan, president of the Haitian Association of Economists, as finance minister; and former army general, Herard Abraham, as interior minister.
In an interview published yesterday, Mr Aristide repeated his claim that the US committed a coup d'etat, saying, "They broke the constitutional order by using force to get me out of the country."
Mr Aristide told California-based Radio Pacifica that before he left Haiti, the US stripped him of his personal security team, which had been provided by the California-based Steele Foundation.
He said 19 agents who were guarding him in Haiti told him that "US officials ordered them to leave and to leave immediately." Mr Aristide claimed another 25 agents who were supposed to reinforce the team were told that they could not leave the US.
US officials have previously acknowledged that Mr Aristide was told that if he remained in Haiti, US forces would not protect him from the rebels.
Mr Aristide is now in Jamaica, which offered him temporary asylum despite fears in Port-au-Prince and Washington that his presence would provoke more violence among his supporters in Haiti.
The 15-member Caribbean community, chaired by Jamaica, has called for an investigation into his ousting. Venezuela has also offered Mr Aristide asylum and has said it would refuse to recognise the new government.