International pressure is growing for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti to step down.

Senior French officials have made calls for a new power-sharing government in the country without Mr Aristide, as a way of ending the crisis which has seen violent uprisings in the country's major cities.

After meeting a Haitian government delegation in Paris today, the French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, said he proposed a government of 'national unity'.

The US - which has been a crucial ally of the Caribbean state - has also questioned whether President Aristide can continue to lead effectively.

Rebels, who currently control much of northern Haiti, are reported to be moving south and have reportedly taken over a city less than 60km from the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Mr Aristide has insisted he will not quit until the end of his term in office in 2006.

A spokesperson for the French Foreign Ministry, Herves Ledsen, said Mr de Villepin blamed Mr Aristide for the situation in Haiti.