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6610: Aristide urged to condemn violence (fwd)
ARISTIDE URGED TO CONDEMN VIOLENCE
By Yves Colon
By keeping silent, president-elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide of Haiti is
condoning thuggish acts of violence in his name, according to two members of
Congress who expressed support for opposition politicians.
Reps. Porter Goss, R-Fla., and Benjamin Gilman, R-N.Y., denounced the threats
against political leaders, Catholic Church leaders and journalists.
"The long list of political assassinations in Haiti is proof enough to
believe these are not idle threats, " the congressmen, both members of the
House International Relations Committee and outspoken critics of Aristide,
said in statement on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, representatives of organizations claiming to support the dominant
Lavalas Family party made the threats during a press conference in the St.
Jean Bosco church in Port-au-Prince, where Aristide preached when he was a
The speakers cited a list of public figures opposed to the inauguration of
Aristide on Feb. 7, including opposition figures who plan to form a "shadow
government." Opposition parties boycotted both the Nov. 26 elections, which
Aristide won overwhelmingly. Lavalas Family controls 103 seats of 110 in
In a recent letter to President Clinton, Aristide offered to break the
impasse between his party and the opposition by organizing runoffs for 10
contested Senate seats.
"Instead of keeping his promises to President Clinton, Mr. Aristide is
condoning by his silence thuggish acts of violence in his name," the
The speakers at the church warned the opposition to drop the idea of a
"shadow government" within three days or risk violence.
Several groups, including the human rights organizations, Haiti's Bishops
Conference and Amnesty International, also condemned the threats.
"Threats of political violence must cease," Amnesty International said in a
statement, calling on Haitian authorities to quickly stop the threats.
Justice Minister Camille Leblanc has ordered an investigation, which he said
may lead to arrests.
Meanwhile, Yvon Neptune, the leader of Haiti's senate and a spokesman for
Lavalas Family, said the party has consistently denounced threats of violence
"We in Lavalas are against acts of violence or words that incite people to
violence," Neptune said.
"These words don't go with the laws of this country or the constitution, nor
with the efforts of the Haitian people to have peace in this country."
Demanding that Aristide denounce every threat of violence by people who claim
to be close to Lavalas would be like asking President Clinton to comment
every time a Democrat commits violence in the United States, Neptune said.