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#3178: 15,000 mourn slain Haitian journalist (fwd)


WIRE:04/08/2000 13:42:00 ET
 15,000 mourn slain Haitian
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Some 15,000 mourners gathered at  Haiti's  
main soccer stadium Saturday for the  funeral of slain  journalist Jean
Dominique, who was remembered as a leading  advocate for democracy and 
grass-roots struggles.  Dominique, 69, owner of Radio HaitiInter and a
special  adviser to President Rene Preval,was shot by two gunmen as he 
arrived at his radio station Monday for his morning newscast.  Security
guard Jean-Claude Louissaint, also killed in the attack, was also
honored at the funeral. Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who cut
short a  trip to the United States to attend the funeral, and President 
Rene Preval attended the service along with a host of government 
ministers. Preval decorated Dominique's lapel with a gold medal  of
honor but did  not make any statements.  During dictatorship he
(Dominique) fought to change the  system. If he died in the fight, it is
proof that the system has  not changed," said Radio Haiti Inter   
journalist Sony Esteus,  speaking at the funeral. Dominique, one of
Haiti's most famous journalists, was a  long-time democracy advocate
whose fiery  political commentaries  angered Haiti's business elite,  
drug barons and supporters of  the exiled former  dictator, Jean-Claude
Duvalier. His assassination further hampered Haiti's attempts to      
hold  its first national elections in three years as it struggles to 
form a stable democracy after decades of dictatorship. Election 
officials had set Sunday as election day but Preval refused to  approve
the date and has not set another one.  
 Dominique's body, with bullet wounds in the temple,and that  of
Louissaint lay in open coffins draped with the Haitian flag  under a
canopy in the middle of the grassy field of the Sylvio  Cator
Stadium.    A small group of hecklers shouting "Aristide or  Death," at 
one point crowded around the open caskets. One heckler shouted "Tuye
(kill) K-Plim!" the  nickname of  opposition politician Evans Paul,
a      former Port-au-Prince mayor  and spokesman for the Espace de
Concertation coalition party. After the funeral, demonstrators shouting
pro-Aristide slogans and threats against Paul marched from the stadium
to the  headquarters of Espace de Concertation and set it on fire. 
Police stood by and watched but did not interfere, journalists  on the
scene said."I am very concerned for the safety of our party  
members,"Paul said in an interview on local Radio Metropole as fire 
ravaged the building. "It's clear that they are using his  (Dominique's)
death to attack us. This is a tragic event in the  history of Haiti."  
Friday, a march from Radio Haiti Inter to the national  palace to demand
justice in Dominique's killing was  marred by  counter-demonstrators
chanting slogans against the Espace de  Concertation and making threats
against Paul, an outspoken  critic of Aristide's  Lavalas Family party. 
The Espace de Concertation and Aristide's Lavalas Family  have clashed
violently in recent weeks as Haiti prepared to hold  the legislative and
municipal elections. The vote has been  postponed three times.      
Preval opponents say the delays are part of a strategy to  hold general
elections at the end of the year when Aristide is  expected to run for
and win the presidency,which would help his  partisans gain control of
parliament on his coat tails.Preval dissolved parliament 15 months ago
to end a political impasse.The Espace de Concertation negotiated a
settlement with  Preval shortly after to pave the way for holding
elections.On Monday, Paul called for his party's cabinet  ministers to 
resign as friction grew between his party and the Lavalas  Family, which
controls the government. On Thursday, the environment minister and the
labor secretary of state, both from the Espace de Concertation, 
announced their resignations.