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#3024: Violence Mars Haitian Protests (fwd)


Monday March 27 11:26 PM ET 
 Violence Mars Haitian Protests
 By MICHAEL NORTON, Associated Press Writer 

 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) - Four people, including a neighborhood
voting official, were killed Monday during violent demonstrations to
demand the resignation of Haiti's electoral council, which is embroiled
in a controversy over upcoming elections. Groups of demonstrators
blocked traffic with flaming tire barricades on roads leading into
 Port-au-Prince, the capital, and at city intersections. Some threw
rocks at passing vehicles. Police intervened toremove the tires.
 The fatalities occurred along the city's seaside boulevard, but the
circumstances were unclear. In the voting official's death, witnesses
initially said he was attacked by machete-wielding protesters. Others
gave conflicting versions of what happened.                             
Police didn't intervene in the seaside protest and had no immediate
comment.Haiti's electoral process has been marred by violence since
President Rene Preval dissolved Parliament in January 1999, appointed a
new premier and provisional electoral council by decree and called for
elections. More than 50 violent election-related incidents have been
recorded since October, according to an Organization of American States
mission. Two rounds of elections for local and legislative offices have
been postponed twice because of organizational problems. The electoral
council has rescheduled voting for April 9 and May 21, but Preval is
contesting the council's authority, charging the dates were invalid
since he had not published them in an executive order. It is uncertain
when balloting will be held. Most opposition politicians have accused
Preval of wanting to govern without a legislative check to his power
until presidential elections in December, when his mentor and
predecessor, former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, will run for a
second term.