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#804: Aristide Partisans Break Up Ceremony (fwd)


Monday October 25 10:33 PM ET 
 Aristide Partisans Break Up Ceremony
 By MICHAEL NORTON Associated Press Writer 

 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Rampaging supporters of former President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide sprayed electoral officials with bottles of urine
to break up a ceremony kicking off next year's election effort.
 ``Aristide or death! There's no topping Aristide!'' the group of about
30 militants shouted as they doused council members and knocked over
chairs. Panicked officials and hundreds of spectators scrambled for the
exits of the gymnasium in downtown Port-au-Prince, where the ceremony
was held Sunday. A live television broadcast of the ceremony by
state-run Television Nationale was interrupted without warning.
 Fist fights broke out between the militants and the supporters of
former Port-au-Prince Mayor Evans Paul, who has advocated new elections.
Throughout the clash, the militants chanted ``people power, not
elections.'' Paul's supporters hustled him out of the gymnasium.
Outside, a militant pulled a revolver out of his belt and
 threatened him with death, Paul said. Only security officers assigned
to the electoral council were present, and none intervened to stop the
mayhem. The ceremony was supposed to have opened preparations for
parliamentary elections, promised by President Rene Preval when he
dissolved the country's Parliament in January after many months of
political standoff. The two rounds of elections were scheduled for March
and April. Aristide's political foes said his supporters wanted
parliamentary elections postponed until presidential elections at
 the end of 2000. Paul said recent unrest had shaken his hopes for a
peaceful vote.

 ``We're in the hands of a group of politically manipulated thugs,'' he
said. ``Anarchy is overwhelming us.''