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#1173: Fights Disrupt Haiti Election Rally (fwd)


Tuesday November 30 12:28 AM ET 
 Fights Disrupt Haiti Election Rally

 PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Scattered fights broke out between
supporters of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and
participants at an anti-violence, pro-election rally in central
Port-au-Prince on Monday. The rally, which drew about 1,000 people, was
the latest in a series of political gatherings disrupted by pro-Aristide
 demonstrators. Police quickly stopped the fights and arrested several
people at the event marking the anniversary of Haiti's bloody Nov. 29,
 1987, general election. That vote -- the country's first after the end
of the 30-year Duvalier dictatorship -- was halted by gunmen linked to
the Duvaliers who killed at least 34 people. On Monday leaders of the
Espace de Concertation (Concertation Group), a coalition of five
opposition political parties, called for clean, nonviolent voting during
Haiti's legislative and municipal election set for March 2000.
 ``We want good elections, and we want to make sure what was done in
1987 doesn't happen again,'' Serge Gilles, one of the group's leaders,
told the crowd of about 1,000. The fights occurred between members of
the Espace de Concertation and supporters of Aristide, leader of the
Lavalas Family (Fanmi Lavalas) party, who is expected to run for
president again in December 2000. Aristide, a former Roman Catholic
priest and a champion of the poor, was overthrown by the military and
forced into exile in 1991. A U.S.-led invasion in 1994 ousted the
generals and restored him to power. He handed over the presidency to
Rene Preval in 1996 and has remained a low-key but influential figure in
Haitian politics. On Nov. 6 a campaign rally by another party in the
southwestern town of Petit Goave was disrupted by demonstrators who
 struck members of the crowd, hurled plastic bottles filled with urine
and shouted pro-Aristide slogans. On Oct. 24 a public meeting called by
the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) was similarly disrupted.