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#5352: Haitian Police Arrested in Alleged Coup Plot (fwd)

From: nozier@tradewind.net

Thursday October 19 4:01 PM ET
Haitian Police Arrested in Alleged Coup Plot By Trenton Daniel

 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - Just a month before presidential
elections in Haiti, eight high-ranking police officials were arrested in
an alleged plot to destabilize the government of the Caribbean nation,
  government officials said on Thursday.Six officers from the Haitian
National Police (HNP) force were detaine by the Dominican military at
Haiti's request after fleeing to the neighboring Dominican Republic, and
two officers were arrested in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, on
Wednesday. ``Some police officers were involved in a movement in trying
to destabilize the government,'' Prime Minister Jacques Eduoard Alexis
 said, without elaborating. ``We're still collecting evidence and we
will have a separate investigation for each officer. We've been in
contact with the police in the Dominican Republic and they arrested six
police officers and former police officers in Santo Domingo,'' Alexis
said. The alleged coup plot was uncovered just a month before Haiti
holds presidential elections widely expected to return former president
Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power. Leading opposition parties are
 boycotting the vote, still angry over what they say was a flaw in the
counting method in parliamentary elections earlier this year that gave
 Aristide's ruling Lavalas Family party an unfairly decisive victory.
 Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest with a popular agenda for more
social justice in a desperately poor country with a history of
dictatorships and political repression, became the country's first
freely elected president in 1991.
 He lasted just seven months in office before being ousted in a military
 coup, but was returned to office in 1994 after a U.S.-led invasion to
 restore political order.  President Rene Preval tried to calm the
nation's 8 million residents after this week's alleged coup plot, saying
in a statement, ``I call upon the Haitian population and popular
organizations to stay calm because the situation is under control.''
 Neither Alexis nor Preval provided details on what the alleged plot
involved, and there were no reports of violence against government
officials or buildings.  Rumors of a pending coup attempt circulated in
the capital since last weekend, after Alexis said on Saturday that
firearms were being  smuggled into the country and that an unidentified
party was ``trying to  assassinate'' and attempting a coup d'etat.
 Three days later Alexis said the Haitian government was launching an
investigation into an alleged destabilization plot, which he linked to
the police force.  Haiti's civilian police force was created after its
army was disbanded in 1991 for its role in the military coup that ousted
Aristide. The 6,000-member force, trained by United Nations (news - web
sites) police, has been rocked by allegations of police brutality,
rampant corruption and drug scandals, and has been at the center of a
power struggle by political groups vying for control of the nonpartisan
More than 500 members of the force have been fired in recent years
because of allegations of misconduct and human rights abuses.
Preval, an Aristide ally who took office after Aristide was barred by
the constitution from running for a second consecutive term in 1995, met
his counterpart from the Dominican Republic, Hipolito Mejia, on
  Wednesday to discuss the situation following the alleged coup plot,
  journalists from the Dominican Republic said.The meeting took place as
both men attended a regional meeting on energy in the Venezuelan capital
Caracas. Mejia also spoke by phone with Aristide, they said.