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7414: 4 Hurt in Violence in Haiti (fwd)
From: nozier <email@example.com>
4 Hurt in Violence in Haiti
The Associated Press, Wed 21 Mar 2001
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Supporters of President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide shot at a school run by Haiti's opposition leader and lobbed
fire bombs at an opposition office, raising the stakes in a standoff
between the government and its opponents.
At least four people were reported wounded in Tuesday's violence, which
opposition leader Gerard Gourgue accused the government of
orchestrating in a quest to return Haiti to dictatorship.``A climate of
violence and terror has spread panic throughout the population,''
Gourgue, leader of the15-party opposition alliance called Convergence,
said in a statement Tuesday night. Earlier, he pleaded for security
from inside the barricaded school where he was taking cover with his
family and about 50 students.
``We are wide open,'' he said by telephone. ``We have no police
After more than an hour, police arrived and fired tear gas, forcing
the mob of Aristide supporters to disperse. In other violence, about
200 of the president's followers opened fire on an opposition party
office and threw fire bombs at the building, sparking a small fire. An
opposition leader was shot in the chest there, and three Aristide
supporters were wounded — one in the foot and the other in the hand —
when security guards shot at a mob that tried to storm the building.
The attackers have been demanding the arrest of Gourgue, who claims the
Aristide administration won last year's legislative and presidential
elections through fraud. Convergence named Gourgue president of an
``alternative government.'' ``We're going to keep on doing this, until
the government arrests Gerard Gourgue,'' said Eugene Bedeshein, 25, at a
flaming tire barricade he helped build in downtown Port-au-Prince.
Meanwhile, two of Aristide's Cabinet ministers threatened to arrest
Gourgue for ``usurping the title of president,'' which they said was a
violation of the law. Asked if the government was sponsoring the
attacks, spokesman Mario Dupuy said, ``We are waiting for the police
report to be made before making statements, but we condemn violence in
whatever shape or form.''
Gourgue, a lawyer and human rights activist, was favored to win 1987
elections that the army halted in a bloodbath.Aristide won Haiti's
first democratic elections in 1989. He was ousted months later by the
military and returned in 1994 by a U.S. invasion. He stepped down
reluctantly in 1996 because the constitution bars consecutive terms of
office. Last year, Aristide's party won an 80 percent majority in the
parliament. The Organization of American States said 10 Senate seats
won by Aristide's party should have gone to a second round, and
millions in international aid have been put on hold over the results.
Aristide was the only viable presidential candidate in November
elections boycotted by the opposition.