The United States and France have intimidated Caribbean countries into delaying an official request for a probe into the murky circumstances under which Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted from power in February, according to diplomatic sources here.
The two veto-wielding permanent members of the 15-nation Security Council have signaled to Caribbean nations that they do not want a U.N. probe of Aristide's ouster.
Any attempts to bring the issue or even introduce a resolution before the Security Council will either be blocked or vetoed by both countries, council sources told IPS.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who has been caught in the middle of the dispute, says he is unable to act unless he has a formal request to do so either by the Security Council or the 15-member Caribbean Community (CARICOM), of which Haiti is a member.
''We have read news reports that CARICOM wants a U.N. investigation. But unless we receive an official request either from CARICOM or from the Security Council, we cannot act on it,'' U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq told IPS.
Aristide left Haiti in the midst of a violent uprising Feb. 29. Now in Jamaica, the country's first democratically elected leader maintains he was forced to resign under pressure from Washington, with strong backing from France. Both countries have dismissed the charge.
''I don't think any purpose would be served by an inquiry,'' U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told reporters during a 24-hour visit to Haiti last week. ''We were on the verge of a bloodbath and President Aristide found himself in great danger,'' he said.
At its summit meeting Mar. 27, CARICOM heads of government ''reiterated their call for an investigation under the auspices of the United Nations.'' But despite that announcement, the group has been dragging its feet over a formal request for a probe.
''The reasons are obvious,'' says a Caribbean diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. ''We are under tremendous pressure not to follow up on our request.''
Reginald Dumas, the U.N. special adviser on Haiti, was quoted as saying he was surprised at CARICOM's delay.
Asked about it, CARICOM Secretary-General Edwin Carrington said last week the body was considering various modalities and strategies. These would be disclosed at ''the appropriate moment,'' he added.
A second Caribbean diplomat told IPS that CARICOM was studying the ''wider ramifications'' of its request before rushing into it.
A two-day meeting of the 15-member CARICOM and U.N. officials that began Monday also failed to resolve the issue. The gathering focused on ways to strengthen cooperation between Caribbean nations and the world body.
Addressing the meeting Monday, U.N Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette said the situation in Haiti looks even more daunting now than 10 years ago.
''Weapons have proliferated and drug trafficking has gained a foothold,'' according to Frechette. ''Haitians are frustrated and disappointed with the international community as much as with their own leadership,'' she added.
CARICOM foreign ministers are scheduled to discuss Haiti again at meeting in Barbados scheduled for Apr. 22-23.
In a statement issued last month, CARICOM said, ''In the light of contradictory reports still in circulation concerning the departure of President Aristide from office, heads of government (of CARICOM) believed that it is in the compelling interest of the international community that the preceding events and all the circumstances surrounding the transfer of power from a constitutionally elected head of state, be fully investigated.''
One constitutional expert who closely monitors the United Nations says it is obvious where the blame lies.