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17646: Lemieux: South Africa. News24.com: Haiti: The party is over (fwd)

From: JD Lemieux <lxhaiti@yahoo.com>

Haiti: The party is over
05/01/2004 21:11  - (SA)

Port-au-Prince - Government opponents announced a week of
strikes and protests aimed at toppling President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide as a delegation from the Caribbean
Community arrived on Monday to help mediate in Haiti's
political crisis.

The delegation's visit came after bloody clashes between
police and demonstrators marred celebrations last week
marking Haiti's 200th anniversary of independence.

A coalition of civil groups and opposition parties
announced plans for a demonstration on Wednesday and a
two-day general strike on Thursday and Friday as they
pressed for Aristide's ousting.

"Our principle is everyone together to save the nation,"
said Charles Henry Baker, a businessman and prominent
Aristide opponent.

The team from the 15-member Caribbean Community was headed
by Colin Granderson, an assistant secretary general of the
regional bloc known as Caricom.

"We've come on a fact-finding mission to see what Caricom
can do to help Haiti out as a mediator or a facilitator,"
said Granderson.

Also along on the three-day trip were St Lucian Ambassador
Sonia Johnny, Bahamian Ambassador Joshua Sears and Jamaican
Ambassador Peter Black.

The group is to hold talks with Aristide, anti-government
opponents and others, including clergy and business

The opposition has criticised the Caribbean Community for
being partial to Aristide, although at last week's
bicentennial the group sent only two high-ranking
delegates. Haiti became the regional bloc's 15th member in

Tensions have been rising in Haiti since Aristide's Lavalas
Family party swept legislative elections that some
observers said were flawed.

President won't step down

The opposition, which refuses to take part in new elections
unless Aristide resigns, last week called for the formation
of a transitional government headed by a supreme court
judge and a nine-member council.

Aristide refuses to step down, and government leaders say
they won't buckle under opposition pressure to push a
democratically elected leader from power.

"The aim of our peaceful struggle is to implement the
proposal for an alternative government," said Mischa
Gaillard, an opposition leader.

Since mid-September, at least 42 people have been killed in
demonstrations and more than 100 have been wounded.

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