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#4963: OAS Mission: Haiti Intolerance Wide (fwd)

From: Stanley Lucas <slucas@iri.org>

  AUGUST 26, 18:05 EDT 

      OAS Mission: Haiti Intolerance Wide 

      Associated Press Writer 

      PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - An Organization of American States human rights commission wound up a five-day visit to Haiti by warning of an alarming rise in political intolerance in the Caribbean nation. 

      The OAS fact-finding mission met with government officials, political leaders and human rights groups. It found that ``the climate of intimidation has intensified in the country,'' Elio Bigodo, president of the OAS's Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said Friday. 

      Fifteen people died in politically related attacks in the months leading up to May 21 local and legislative elections, and rock-throwing street demonstrators loyal to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide managed to shut down the capital on several occasions. 

      Police arrested at least 40 opposition politicians and militants after the balloting. 

      Aristide's Lavalas Family party went on to win 18 of 19 seats in the upper house of Parliament and 72 of 82 seats in the lower house in a landslide victory the opposition claimed was fraudulent. Former electoral council president Leon Manus fled to the United States in June, fearing for his life after he refused to approve the first-round Senate results. 

      The OAS had found the balloting acceptable but contested the method used to compute some winners. It said 10 of the Senate seats should have gone to a run-off vote.