Address to the Nation on Haiti
My fellow Americans, I want to announce that the military leaders of Haiti have agreed to step down from power. The dictators have recognized that it is in their best interest and in the best interest of the Haitian people to relinquish power peacefully, rather than to face imminent action by the forces of the multinational coalition we are leading.
Our objective over the last 3 years has been to make sure that the military dictators leave power and that the democratically elected government is returned. This agreement guarantees both those objectives. It minimizes the risks for American forces and the forces of the 24 nations of the international coalition. And the agreement maximizes the orderly transfer of power to Haiti's democratically elected government.
This is a good agreement for the United States and for Haiti. The military leaders will leave. The United States and coalition forces will arrive beginning tomorrow. And they'll do so in conditions that are less dangerous, although still not without risk. It will be much easier to preserve human rights. And there is a real chance of a more orderly and less violent transfer of power.
And to the supporters of President Aristide, he will be returned. I ask that all Haitians remember what President Aristide said just a couple of days ago: no vengeance, no violence, no retribution. This is a time for peace. That is what the United States is going, along with our coalition partners, to work for.
As all of you know, at my request, President Carter, General Colin Powell, and Senator Sam Nunn went to Haiti to facilitate the dictators' departure just yesterday. I have been in constant contact with them for the last 2 days. They have worked tirelessly, almost around the clock. And I want to thank them for undertaking this crucial mission on behalf of all Americans. Just as important, I want also to thank the men and women of the United States Armed Forces. It was their presence and their preparations that played a pivotal part in this agreement.
Under the agreement, the dictators have agreed to leave power as soon as the Haitian Parliament passes an amnesty law, as called for by the Governors Island Agreement, but in any event, no later than October 15th. They've agreed to immediate introduction of troops from the international coalition, beginning, as I said, as early as tomorrow. They have also pledged to cooperate fully with the coalition troops during the peaceful transition of power, something we have wanted very much.
I have directed United States forces to begin deployment into Haiti as a part of the U.N. coalition. And General Shelton, our commander, will be there tomorrow. The presence of the 15,000 member multinational force will guarantee that the dictators carry out the terms of the agreement. It is clear from our discussions with the delegation that this agreement only came because of the credible and imminent threat of the multinational force. In fact, it was signed after Haiti received evidence that paratroopers from our 82d Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, had begun to load up to begin the invasion, which I had ordered to start this evening. Indeed, at the time the agreement was reached, 61 American planes were already in the air.
Because of this agreement, the United States and other coalition troops going to Haiti will now be able to go under much more favorable conditions than they would have faced had the generals not decided to leave power.
But let me emphasize that this mission still has its risks, and we must be prepared for them. Haiti is still a troubled country, and there remain possibilities of violence directed at American troops. But this agreement minimizes those risks and maximizes our chance to protect the human rights of all Haitians, both those who support President Aristide and those who oppose him, and to create an environment in which President Aristide can return, as he said, without violence, without vengeance, without retribution.
Under the terms of United Nations Security Council Resolution 940, an international coalition from 25 nations will soon go into Haiti to begin the task of restoring democratic government. President Aristide will return to Haiti when the dictators depart.
On Thursday night I told you that the United States must act here to protect our interest, to stop the brutal atrocities that threaten tens of thousands of Haitians, to secure our borders and preserve stability and promote democracy in our hemisphere, to uphold the reliability of commitments we make to others and the commitments others make to us. This agreement furthers all these goals.
From the beginning I have said that the Haitian dictators must go; tonight I can tell you that they will go. And to our troops tonight who are headed to Haiti under less risky conditions, I am confident you will carry out your mission as you already have, effectively and professionally. We depend upon you to do well tomorrow as you have done so very well today and in the weeks and days before, when you planned this exercise, prepared for it, and then began to carry it out. To all of you I say, thank you, your Nation is proud of you.
Good night, and God bless America.
NOTE: The President spoke at 9:30 p.m. from the Oval Office at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Lt. Gen. Henry H. Shelton, USA, commander of U.S. forces in Haiti.
William J. Clinton, Address to the Nation on Haiti Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/218952