Sharpton trying to broker Haitian conflict

/ Source: The Associated Press

Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton is making plans to meet with both the Haitian president and rebel leaders in an effort to help stem the violent unrest in the country.

Sharpton said Tuesday the Haitian consul general told him the president is willing to meet with him.

“If by the end of the day there’s no agreement between the rebels and the government, I’m definitely going,” Sharpton said in a telephone interview shortly before meeting with the consul general, Harry Fouche, at the Haitian consulate in New York.

Sharpton, a minister who has advocated Haitian-American rights in the United States, said he has met President Jean-Bertrand Aristide several times.

Administration likely not interested
As rebels threatened to attack the capital of Port-au-Prince, the United States tried to broker a last-ditch peace plan that did not require Aristide to resign. It was unlikely the Bush administration would accept an offer of private diplomacy.

Sharpton made a similar effort at restoring order in Liberia in July when he traveled to the West African nation to meet with both sides in the conflict.

Sharpton has stuck with his long-shot presidential bid partly to keep minority issues on his party’s agenda. He expressed disappointment in his Democratic opponents for inadequately addressing Haiti, and in the Bush administration for not doing more to help quell the violence.

Sharpton said Haitian-Americans in New York and Florida have asked for his help.

“Many of them are very concerned about their family members, about the bloodshed,” said Sharpton, the only black candidate in the Democratic race. “They’re concerned about the silence of American black leaders, and I’m concerned about the presidential candidates.”