Conflict Summary

Ousted by the military in 1991, restored to power by 20,000 US troops in 1994, Jean Bertrand Aristide, the first democratically elected leader in Haiti’s history, fled into exile on 29 February 2004. The heart of the conflict lay in the dispute over Aristide’s controversial re-election in 2000, which was boycotted by all major opposition parties and criticised by the international community. Despite an increasing number of mass demonstrations, calls for new elections, and demands for the President to step down, Aristide insisted on serving his full second term until 2006. As a consequence, political unrest placed Haiti at the brink of a civil war. A rebel group, the Artibonite Revolutionary Resistance Front, led by Buteur Metayer, Guy Philippe and Louis-Jodel Chamblain, carried out a military campaign to force Aristide out of office and successfully gained control of over half of the country. Aristide remains in exile and United Nations Security Council Resolution 1542 (2004) has authorised the deployment of a multinational interim force to assist in the maintenance of law and order. Political unrest and gang violence continues, despite the 2006 election of René Préval, a former Aristide supporter, as president.