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5974: Haitian official links opposition to deaths prior to the election (fwd)
Published Sunday, November 26, 2000, in the Miami Herald
Haitian official links opposition to deaths prior to the election
Two killed, dozens injured in pipe-bomb explosions amid call for vote
boycott by YVES COLON
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis is
accusing opposition leaders of murder, linking them to the pipe-bomb
explosions that killed two young Haitians and wounded dozens of others
in the days preceding Sunday's presidential election. Alexis, in an
interview, said the bombings were part of a campaign of terror,
devised to panic Haitians so that they would stay home rather than cast
ballots for nine senators and former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide,
who is widely expected to prevail over four little-known candidates.
Alexis said the opposition leaders, in initial police interviews,
suggested that investigators had used repressive measures against the
suspects, similar to those used during the dictatorships of Francois
``Papa Doc'' Duvalier and his son, Jean-Claude. However, the prime
minister said his government had conducted its investigation lawfully,
interrogating the suspects but not arresting them.
Alexis refused to name the suspects, but said they will be brought
before a judicial commission for further questioning.
``We have the names of these people, people who used to say they are
part of the people,'' Alexis said. ``Now we've seen who they really are.
They are criminals and terrorists and we're going to treat them that
way.'' He urged Haitians not to be intimidated.
``Instead, we want them to be mobilized,'' Alexis said. ``The order of
the day is `look right, look left.' The elections are going to take
place.'' In a television appearance Friday night, Aristide bemoaned the
deaths of the two young people, along with others who have died during
this electoral period. He promised to bring peace to Haitians if
elected. ``We've had enough of economic violence for 200 years,'' he
said. ``We've had enough of political violence for 200 years. Enough
violence.'' A coalition of opposition parties is urging a boycott of
Sunday's election after failing to get an agreement from the government,
controlled by Aristide's Family Lavalas party, to establish an
independent electoral council and to delay the election. Before the
boycott, the opposition had considered naming Evans Paul, a
well-known radio personality and former mayor of Port-au-Prince, as its
The opposition, whose boycott has raised questions about the election's
legitimacy, has accused the Lavalas government of being behind the
violence. Others have suggested that the violence has come from those
who want to see the military that was suspended by Aristide returned.
The opposition parties are critical of May 21 elections in which
Lavalas candidates won by large margins. Leon Manus, chairman of the
electoral council, has said he had to flee the country because his life
was threatened when he tried to call attention to irregularities.
The United States is not sending observers to Sunday's election. But
Global Exchange, a U.S.-based liberal group, is sending 25 observers,
and the Haitian government says it will provide 11,000 of its own.
After pipe-bomb explosions ripped through the capital last week,
residents of several neighborhoods erected barricades to provide their
own protection. They have stopped and searched cars whose drivers are
not known. One man found carrying a gun was killed in a hail of bullets
Thursday night. Also on Thursday, a 7-year-old schoolgirl was killed
after one of two bombs exploded in the seaside neighborhood of
Carrefour. Two days earlier, one of seven similar devices killed a
14-year-old boy and injured scores of others. In addition, unknown
attackers shot at a United Nations truck in Gonaives, where members of
the junta that overthrew Aristide a decade ago were found guilty in
absentia and condemned to life in prison. ``These are cowardly acts,''
Police Chief Pierre Denize said of the violence.
As the voting neared, election supervisors said they expected a high
turnout. ``Everything's in place,'' said Macajou Medard, one of the
electoral board's nine members. He projected a 60 percent turnout -- in
what is expected to be an Aristide mandate for the next five years.
``We're set to go.'' Two days before the electoral council ended its
voter registration program, Medard said it had signed up 123,000
Haitians to vote, in addition to the 800,000 already
on the voter rolls. Aristide's face and outstretched arms, emblazoned
on billboards, greet Haitianpassersby. On some are the words ``Security,
security, security.'' On others: ``Haitians are the hope of Haiti.''
Dieuval Jeudyo said he wants to see the elections take place.
``Everybody has elections; why not us?'' he said. ``This is going to
change us, our economy, our lives. We want to go out and vote.''