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7425: 7418: Protests intensify in Haiti (fwd)

From: nozier <nozier@tradewind.net>

 Protests intensify in Haiti
 By Canute James in Georgetown, Guyana
 Published: March 21 2001 05:30GMT | Last Updated: March 21 2001

 Supporters of Haiti's recently elected president on Tuesday staged a
  consecutive day of street protests in Port-au-Prince, capital of the
Caribbean state,
in an apparent effort to counter anti-government protests by the
 The office of a main opposition group was firebombed. At least three
people were
 injured when protestors and security guards for the opposition opened
fire on
 each other.    Debris was set on fire in several districts by groups
linked to the Lavalas Family  party of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide,
who was installed last month after
 winning a controversial presidential election in November.
 The protests forced a shutdown of commercial life in most parts of the
 according to businessmen and diplomats.  "This is a manifestation of
disagreements between the new administration and the main opposition
groups," said one envoy on Tuesday. "We expect this will get  worse as a
major opposition group wants extensive political reforms which the
government is unwilling to make."  The pro-government protesters have
targeted Convergence Democratique, a  15-party coalition which created
an alternative government last month, appointing as president Gerard
Gourge, a former government minister. Convergence Democratique said
earlier this month that it planned to organise  peaceful anti-government
demonstrations because of its dissatisfaction with the
  Aristide administration. The pro-government activists want Mr Gourge
arrested for
 The protests in the traditionally volatile country of 7.5m people,
which shares the
island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, indicate a failure of
 which Mr Aristide said he would make to reduce political tension.
  Mr Aristide, a former priest, told Caribbean leaders last month that
he would take
steps to mollify persistent international criticism of Haiti's electoral
system, and
will implement a package of reforms long demanded by prospective donors
 Haiti has been criticised by international institutions and foreign
governments for
  the conduct of last year's legislative elections, which foreign
observers and the
 local opposition say were arranged to favour the president's party.
 "We want fundamental changes to prevent arranged elections and to
 corruption and enhance democracy in the country," a spokesman for
Democratique said on Tuesday.  "What we have seen so far are limited and
superficial changes. We reorganised peaceful protests, and our people
are being attacked by thugs supported by the government, with the police
looking the other way. These are the things which must be changed in the