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#3314: Myrtil Kidnapping Reported by REUTER (fwd)


Haiti politician kidnapped as election nears

By Jennifer Bauduy

PORT-AU-PRINCE, April 19 (Reuters) - In the latest episode of escalating 
political violence just a month before Haiti's long-awaited elections, a 
Haitian opposition politician has been kidnapped from his home, party members 
said on Wednesday. 

Claudy Myrthil, a candidate for town representative and member of the 
coalition Espace de Concertation party, was forced from his home in 
Martissant on the outskirts of the capital on Tuesday before dawn by four men 
in a red Isuzu pick-up truck with a covered license plate, witnesses said. 
Myrthil has not been heard from since. 

``This is yet another act, added to a host of others, to pressure candidates, 
to pressure voters, and to ultimately create an atmosphere so that elections 
benefit only one sector,'' Micha Gaillard, Port-au-Prince mayoral candidate 
for the Espace de Concertation party, said. 

Numerous political parties have been targets of violence in recent weeks and 
some 10 political killings have occurred in less than a month. 

Legislative and municipal elections that have been delayed repeatedly in the 
past six months appeared to be back on track on Tuesday when President Rene 
Preval issued a decree setting May 21 and June 25 for the two election 

``Can free, honest and democratic elections be held when candidates are being 
kidnapped?'' Gaillard asked. 

The elections are expected to reestablish parliament, which Preval dissolved 
in January 1999 to end an 18-month political impasse. 

Among other recent incidents, unknown assailants shot and hacked to death a 
rural assembly candidate from the Christian Movement for a New Haiti party, 
Merilus Deus, and attacked his daughter with a machete about 10 days ago in 
the town of Savanette, northeast of the capital. 

The Espace de Concertation party's headquarters were burned down on April 8 
by protesters claiming allegiance to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide 
following the funeral of a prominent journalist who was shot to death. 

Several journalists and politicians have gone underground. 

Following a military coup that ousted Aristide, Haiti's first democratically 
elected president, the United States led a multinational invasion that 
restored Aristide to power in 1994. 

The United States maintained a permanent base in Haiti until early this year. 

The United Nations retains a mission in Haiti to help strengthen democratic 
institutions but a legacy of decades of dictatorship and unchecked drug 
trafficking severely threaten meagre democratic gains. 

19:13 04-19-00

Copyright 2000 Reuters Limited.