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5371: Events in Haiti (fwd)

From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

(from Caribbean Insight newsletter)

(27 Oct 00)

An apparent power struggle inside the police force, which the government
said was "an attempted coup d'etat," forced six officers, including the
police chief of Cap-Haïtien, Haiti's second city, to flee to the Dominican
Republic on October 18.  The police commanders of four major suburbs of
Port-au-Prince ? Pétionville, Delmas, Carrefour and Croix-des-Bouquets ?
were dismissed.  Three other officers were arrested as they tried to leave
the country and two more sought refuge in the Dominican embassy in
Port-au-Prince on October 23.  The Dominican government refused Haiti's
request to return the fugitive officers, later joined by a seventh, who
asked to go to Ecuador, where they had trained. 
        The Cap-Haïtien police chief, Guy Philippe, said they had fled
because of attempts by former national police commander Dany Toussaint and
Joseph Médard -- both ex-soldiers and now senators of former President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide's Fanmi Lavalas (FL) party -- to seize control of
the police.  One of the fugitives was Delmas commander Jacky Nau, who had
been almost lynched by a crowd of FL supporters after he had disarmed an FL
street leader, Ronald Cadavre, as he waited with hundreds of others for
Aristide to present his presidential nomination papers on October 2, a
ceremony that was postponed apparently as a result of the incident.
        The Port-au-Prince radio station Kiskeya quoted what it called a
"secret report" on the power struggle which said a police lieutenant,
Didier Séide, had sought backing for a coup from the US embassy, which had
advised against it and then apparently tipped off the government.  The
report said the coup had been planned as a three-day operation some time in
November and that its organisers claimed support from 600 police, sections
of the presidential palace security unit and reinforcements from the
Dominican Republic.
        It would supposedly involve killing Aristide and President René
Préval and installing a provisional government including former Conseil
Électoral Provisoire (CEP) president Léon Manus and the right-wing Chamber
of Commerce president, Olivier Nadal, both of whom have fled to the United
        Condemning the episode, Préval said a battle was going on in Haiti
between "the 99% of the population living on the margins of society and the
1% of Haitians who control half the country's wealth."  The new police
force recruited members from this minority, he said.
        Meanwhile talks between the FL and the opposition Convergence
Démocratique collapsed on October 20 after a week of mediation by the
Organisation of American States assistant secretary-general, Luigi Einaudi,
who finally managed to arrange face-to-face meetings between them, though
not between their leaders.  The two sides blamed each other for their
failure to agree on the status of the disputed May 21 legislative
elections, possible changes in the CEP and the timetable for presidential
and senate elections that have been set for November 26.