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7458: U.S., OAS Appeal for Calm in Haiti (fwd)

From: nozier <nozier@tradewind.net>

 Wednesday, March 21, 2001 |  Print this story
 U.S., OAS Appeal for Calm in Haiti

 WASHINGTON--The United States has issued an appeal for calm in Haiti
amid increasing violence between opposition activists  demanding new
elections and supporters of President  Jean-Bertrand Aristide. In a
statement late on Tuesday, the State Department urged    Haiti's
political leaders and their supporters to refrain from making
  inflammatory remarks and provoking more violence.   "We call on the
Government of Haiti and its security forces to    respect and protect
the democratic and constitutional right of all   citizens to assemble
peacefully and express their political opinions,"  State Department
spokesman Richard Boucher said in the written  statement.  A similar
appeal from the Organization of American States condemned the current
wave of violence in Haiti. In a separate   statement, the OAS echoed the
State Department's plea for all
    parties to refrain from actions and statements that could
exacerbate     tension and jeopardize efforts to find a peaceful
solution to the  crisis.  The renewed violence began March 14 when
opposition   protesters clashed with supporters of Aristide's government
in front    of the OAS office in Petionville, a suburb on the edge of
the Haitian
  capital. Haitian riot police armed with machine guns used tear gas to
break up the scuffles as the fighting spilled into a nearby public
plaza.  Opposition activists were seeking OAS support for new
legislative and presidential elections.  The protest came as Foreign
Affairs Minister Antonio Joseph met OAS officials in Washington to
discuss a proposed commission   to monitor human rights in Haiti and
possibly observe an election
  runoff for the parliamentary vote.The State Department said on Tuesday
the protests had turned  increasingly violent in recent days with
incidents of tire burning, rock throwing, roadblocks, and shootings that
have resulted in several reported casualties.  Haiti's political
opposition has sharply criticized the  administration of Aristide, the
Caribbean nation's first freely elected   president, after it refused to
reconsider results from a parliamentary   election last May.  Aristide,
a former priest, rose to power a decade ago in a    grass-roots movement
but was ousted seven months into his term     by a military coup. A
U.S.-led military invasion restored him to   power three years later.