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17572: Lemieux: Seattle Times: Aristide supporters, foes take to the streets (fwd)

From: JD Lemieux <lxhaiti@yahoo.com>

Saturday, December 27, 2003, 12:00 A.M. Pacific

Aristide supporters, foes take to the streets in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti  In one of the largest
anti-government demonstrations yet, about 10,000 people
marched in the capital yesterday, calling for the
resignation of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Thousands of Aristide supporters took to the streets in
another part of Port-au-Prince, singing, dancing and
shouting "Aristide for five years!" The two groups never
met and the demonstrations were peaceful, in sharp contrast
to violent protests in recent days.

Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest who is serving his
second term as president of the poorest country in the
Americas, has come under increasing pressure to resign. He
has been at odds with opposition parties over the tainted
results of parliamentary elections in 2000.

The anti-Aristide protest, six days before Haiti celebrates
the bicentennial of its independence from France, included
academics, professionals and nonprofit organizations.

Government spokesman Mario Dupuy called the anti-Aristide
demonstrators "a minority of people trying to sabotage
plans for Haiti's bicentennial celebrations" by making the
country look bad.

Last week, an anti-Aristide demonstration was disrupted by
a drive-by shooting in which two people were killed. Other
recent protests have involved rock-throwing and other
assaults by counter-demonstrators.

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