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17856: (Chamberlain) Haiti-Protests (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By MICHAEL NORTON
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Jan 11 (AP) -- Tens of thousands of Haitians marched in
the largest such demonstration against embattled President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide on Sunday as political tensions across the country grew.
The march began at a church outside of the capital with about 1,000
people carrying a banner calling for "Another Haiti." But the crowd swelled
to tens of thousands as the protesters approached Port-au-Prince.
Riot police followed the protest. No injuries were reported, but
Aristide partisans threw sticks at the marchers at one point.
"Don't be afraid!" Rev. Pierre Andre Dumas, a Catholic bishop, told the
crowd. "We need to take another path so that Haiti can live."
Meanwhile, the body of district police commander Jeanty Edner was found
Sunday morning on a street in north-coast Cap-Haitien, Haiti's second
largest city, news reports said. He was shot in the chest, but the motive
was not clear.
In a separate protest, an Aristide supporter was shot and killed in the
town of Miragoane, some 50 miles west of the capital, private Radio Vision
It was not clear who shot him, but Aristide partisans retaliated and set
an anti-government protester on fire, the radio station said. The man was
hospitalized but his condition was unclear.
During protests in the past four months, at least 46 people have been
killed and more than 100 wounded. Both sides blame each other for the
violence, but most of the deaths have been anti-government protesters.
"We want nonviolent demonstrations, but they want civil war," said
Cirvil Bernier, a 44-year-old construction worker and Aristide partisan.
"That's why we want to stop them."
Government critics accuse Aristide of being power-hungry, while the
government accuses the opposition of impeding progress. Tensions have been
rising since Aristide's party won 2000 legislative elections that observers
said were flawed.
The opposition refuses to participate in new elections unless Aristide
steps down, but he says he will serve out his term until 2006.