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20384: Lemiueux: Reuters: Haiti Police Begin Rounding Up Aristide Associates (fwd)

From: JD Lemieux <lxhaiti@yahoo.com>

Haiti Police Begin Rounding Up Aristide Associates
Sun Mar 14, 2004 06:51 PM ET

By Michael Christie
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) - Haitian police rounded up
supporters of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide over
the weekend, and the impoverished Caribbean country's new
police chief warned on Sunday the jails would be packed in
coming weeks.

With the capital aquiver over Aristide's looming return to
the Caribbean from Africa, police said the arrests were
aimed at all wanted criminals, and not just followers of
his Lavalas Family party who remained behind after a
month-long armed revolt and U.S. pressure drove him into
exile on Feb. 29.

"There's a lot of them" to be arrested, Leon Charles, the
new director general of the Haitian National Police, told

While Charles and other police officials insisted the
arrests were not politically motivated, all six new
detainees being held on Sunday at the station in the
upscale Port-au-Prince suburb of Petionville were from

They included Jacques Anthony Nazaire, in charge of
Aristide's car pool, Rospide Petion, an Aristide supporter
known as "12" accused of attacking opposition radio
stations, and Harold Severe, a former deputy mayor of

All had been charged with associating with criminal groups.

A 2,650-strong international peace force led by U.S.
Marines did not appear to have been involved in the

"They're chasing after people who were with Aristide,"
Nazaire told Reuters through the jailhouse bars. Asked if
he expected a fair trial, he said: "I can't hope for
anything. If there was a real effort at reconciliation,
this wouldn't be happening."


Charles acknowledged his police force would not immediately
go after convicted human rights abusers and mass killers
who fought with the armed rebels that helped send Aristide,
Haiti's first democratically elected leader, into exile.

"The government has to make a decision about the rebels.
That's over my head," Charles said at the Petionville
police station after racing up to it in a well-guarded
black Toyota Landcruiser.

As the authorities under new interim Prime Minister Gerard
Latortue appeared to be cracking down, Aristide prepared to
return to the Caribbean from Africa. His expected visit to
Jamaica, a mere 115 miles from Haiti, has alarmed the new
Haitian government and enlivened his followers.

A champion of the poor and father of Haitian democracy who
faced increasing accusations of corruption and despotism,
the former slum priest has accused Washington of kidnapping

White House national security adviser Condoleezza Rice
repeated the United State's adamant denial of the claim.
"The Haitian people need to move forward," Rice said on
NBC's "Meet the Press" program.

"And the best thing that President Aristide can do for his
people is to now go into the background and let them try
and achieve the kind of democratic process and progress
that they were unable to achieve under him," she said.

It was not certain on Sunday when Aristide will leave
Africa for Jamaica.

A delegation including Randall Robinson, former head of
black U.S. lobby group TransAfrica, and U.S. congresswoman
Maxine Waters arrived on Sunday in the Central African
Republic to whisk him away.

Jamaican lawmaker Sharon Hay Webster told reporters the
goal was to arrange for the ousted leader to see his two
young U.S.-based children. Aristide has not been granted
asylum in Jamaica.

A government official in the Republic's capital Bangui said
it was unlikely the delegation would leave before Monday,
as President Francois Bozize, who seized power in a coup
d'etat on March 15 last year, would want to see them.

Latortue, a former foreign minister and U.N. official named
by a council of "wise men" to pick a new Cabinet after
Aristide's fall, has slammed Jamaica for "an unfriendly

In the slums of Port-au-Prince where Aristide still has
support, residents say they hope his proximity to Haiti
will pave the way for his eventual return, and stop what
they say are reprisal killings and harassment.

Hospital officials say 30 to 40 bodies a day have arrived
at the capital's main morgue since the revolt began on Feb.
5, and they are continuing to show up.

Enraged at the loss of the only Haitian leader they say has
ever cared about them, slum-dwellers have clashed with U.S.
Marines. The Marines have killed six people since arriving.

(Additional reporting by Joseph Guyler Delva and Ibon
Villelabeitia in Port-au-Prince and Jean-Lambert Ngouandji
in Bangui)

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