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7713: Events in Haiti (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
Canadian prime minister Jean Chrétien called on President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide at the end of the Americas Summit in Quebec on 22 April to "take
rapid action" on all eight reform pledges he made to US officials last
Chrétien spoke as Summit chairman after participants failed to
agree on the wording of an official position on Haiti. He said the meeting
had asked OAS secretary-general Cesar Gaviria to consult with Caricom
countries and visit Haiti "in the near future" to check on the progress of
the reforms. He urged all sides in the political deadlock to redouble
their efforts to solve it.
Aristide commented later that he was "confident" of a "quick
resolution of the crisis in the next few days with the help of the OAS."
On his return to Port-au-Prince, he made no mention of Chrétien's implicit
rebuke, citing instead the final communiqué's injunction against
"unconstitutional alteration or interruption of the democratic order,"
which he called a warning that "those who choose a zero option policy will
get zero." The opposition Convergence Démocratique wants last year's
parliamentary and presidential elections to be annulled.
The Port-au-Prince home of outspoken Fanmi Lavalas Sen. Prince
Sonson Pierre was stoned and fired at during the night of 13-14 April. He
has criticised the presence of former Duvalierists in the government, the
obstruction of the probe into the murder of journalist Jean Dominique and
the "betrayal" of Lavalas ideals.
Five men were lynched by enraged local residents a few hours after
hundreds of people armed with guns, machetes and clubs had broken into the
compound of two politically-neutral radio stations, Lumière and Vision
Nouvelle, north of the capital on 20 April and made off with $200,000 worth
of equipment. One guard was hacked to death and two others shot and
wounded in the attack.
The pro-government mayor of Hinche, Dongo Joseph, and four aides
was arrested on 19 April, accused of beating a local judge on March 21.
Amnesty International called on the government on 19 April to "disband
illegal security groups linked to local authorities" which it said had
emerged since the elections and were a source of "major concern." It noted
that the justice system "remains largely dysfunctional and poses a
substantial impediment to respect for human rights." More than a dozen
alleged criminals were killed by vigilantes in the capital's main slum,
Cité Soleil, between 18 and 22 April.
The government incurred a budget deficit of 1 billion gourdes ($44
million) during the first six months of the current financial year, mainly
due to the cost of last year's elections and government subsidies for the
price of oil.