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#3551: Haiti Mayoral Candidate Missing (fwd)
Haiti Mayoral Candidate Missing
By Michael Norton Associated Press Writer
Wednesday, May 10, 2000; 9:10 a.m. EDT
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti –– A mayoral candidate disappeared this
week, and his party says it fears he has become the latest victim in a
wave of violence ahead of Haiti's long-delayed elections.
Lesly Tilus was one of more than 30 mayoral candidates in Delmas,
an eastern suburb of Port-au-Prince that is home to 260,000 people.
He has not been heard from since he left his Delmas residence
Sunday, Haitian Democratic Party spokeswoman Claire Lydie Parent
said Tuesday. Tilus had received an anonymous death threat by telephone
Friday, his wife told the private Radio Vision 2000. A rising tide of
political violence has led many Haitians to doubt that the two-step
elections – already postponed three times – can be held May 21 and June
25 as now scheduled. "Elections are impossible in the midst of such
insecurity, and nothing is being done to halt it," said Marie-France
Claude, a mayoral candidate for the opposition in the capital.
About 4 million registered voters in the half-island Caribbean nation
are to choose local and legislative officials from more than 29,000
candidates. But since March 29, at least 14 people have been killed amid
political violence that has dampened the enthusiasm of many voters.
Attacks on candidates have prompted most to stop campaigning, and some
to withdraw from the race altogether. After the April 8 funeral of
slain journalist Jean Dominique, activists claiming to be partisans of
former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide burned down the capital
headquarters of the five-party Space for Concord coalition. Police
watched but did not intervene. Opponents have accused Aristide
supporters of instigating the violence in order to delay the vote until
presidential elections later this year. Aristide is expected to run for
president again, and opponents say combining the elections would allow
his political allies to benefit from his popularity. On Tuesday,
Aristide's Lavalas Family party denied any involvement in the unrest.
"We have incessantly denounced violence and incessantly suffered from
it," party spokesman Yvon Neptune said in a statement.