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#4747: This Week in Haiti 18:29 7/26/2000 (fwd)
"This Week in Haiti" is the English section of HAITI PROGRES
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* THIS WEEK IN HAITI *
July 25 - August 1, 2000
Vol. 18, No. 19
NEW RALLY AND SHOOTINGS IN GONAÏVES
A pattern seems to be developing
Haiti's opposition politicians roll into a town to hold a rally
of a few hundred people. Some members of the Lavalas Family party
(FL) are shot. Then the opposition says it is being repressed.
This is what happened in Petit Goâve last week (see Haïti
Progrès, Vol. 18, Nº. 18, 7/19/00). It happened again this week
On Jul. 20, the Convergence Group, an opposition coalition,
rallied about 300 people at the city's Manassé Park. The
demonstration called for the "Zero Option," that is the removal
of President René Préval and Prime Minister Jacques Edouard
Alexis, the dismissal of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP),
and the annulment of parliamentary and municipal elections held
on May 21 and Jul. 9.
The rally was led by the Christian Movement for a New Haiti
(MOCHRENA), a Convergence adherent, a party led by right-wing
Protestant pastors who have publicly called for the return of the
Haitian Army, which was dissolved in 1995. The demonstration was
guarded by the Police's Departmental Unit for the Maintenance of
"Haiti should not be ruled by Lucifer anymore," said Ernst Colon,
a MOCHRENA spokesman at the rally, referring to former president
Jean Bertrand Aristide's Lavalas government and Préval's Lavalas-
tinged one. In the recent elections, the FL won most of the
contests, and Aristide is expected to easily win presidential
elections, now scheduled for November.
But Colon claimed that MOCHRENA's two Senate candidates and 17
lower-house candidates all won their races, but were cheated out
of their victories by the Lavalas and the CEP.
Furthermore, Colon said he had a prophetic dream that Luc
Mésadieu, MOCHRENA's leader, would be inaugurated as Haiti's
president on Feb. 7, 2001.
Asked if MOCHRENA continues to call for the reinstitution of the
Haitian Army, Colon responded that "the question of the Army is
not the order of the day."
Presidential-candidate-to-be Mésadieu also addressed the rally,
promising that, as president, he would resolve unemployment, the
high cost of living, and the lack of security, clean water, and
electricity. "In Psalms, Chapter 127, Verse 3, we find these
words: "No, these men will not govern for all time over the
nation of righteous men; if not, righteous men can be led into
evil," Mésadieu preached.
But apparently, some coup-supporting "righteous men" affiliated
with the opposition have already been led into evil. On Jul. 19,
unidentified armed men shot and wounded Carl-Henry Emilcar, an FL
partisan and secretary treasurer of the local Departmental
Electoral Office (BED), as he was driving home in his car.
There were conflicting reports about how and how many times he
was shot. At a minimum, he took a bullet in the stomach and one
in the foot.
Emilcar was transported in a private car (the local ambulance had
no gas) to Gonaïves's Providence Hospital, and after that to the
General Hospital in the capital, where he is in stable condition.
Meanwhile, on Jul. 22, two other FL militants in Gonaïves were
shot and wounded under uncertain circumstances, according to
ALEXIS TO RESIGN
Now that election results are finally being promulgated, some
changes are likely. New rural and town councils will go about
electing a permanent electoral council to replace the current
provisional one. It will be the first full-fledged election
council ever installed since prescribed by the 1987 Constitution.
The government will also likely be replaced. The Constitution
says that the Prime Minister should be drawn by the President
from the ranks of parliament's majority party, in this case the
"We are waiting for the CEP to completely announce the final
results, and at that point, the government of which I am Prime
Minister must resign," Jacques Edouard Alexis said this week. "I
want to put President Préval at ease to choose the Prime Minister
and government which wants." Alexis was appointed in 1999 with
the "sole mandate" of facilitating the holding of elections.
THE NATIONAL PENITENTIARY IS FULL
Haiti's crumbling National Penitentiary can take no more
prisoners, its director, Jean Daniel René announced this week.
The crumbling edifice in downtown Port-au-Prince now holds 2061
men and women, 238 of them convicts and the remaining 1823
awaiting trial. That's a ratio of almost 8:1.
René placed the blame for the crisis on Haiti's justice system,
which moves at a snail's pace. Prisoners can wait up to three
years to come before a judge, usually just to have their case
Meanwhile, the U.S. and Canada are sending back planeloads of
convicted felons, who they claim are Haitian nationals (see Haïti
Progrès, Vol. 18, Nº. 18, 7/19/00). This has further taxed
Haiti's fragile and overwhelmed holding system.
The overcrowding begets horrendous conditions. For example, there
are only four doctors and a dozen nurses to care for the
penitentiary's inmates. The prison, built in 1918 during the
first U.S. military occupation of Haiti, is run by 108 prison
authority policemen along with 82 other personnel.
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