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8940: Article: Haiti Raids Opposition Headquarters (fwd)

From: Dan Craig <dgcraig@att.net>

Haiti Raids Opposition Headquarters


PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Haitian police raided the headquarters of
an opposition party and arrested five of its members on weapons charges,
authorities said Thursday.

Police accused Convention of Democratic Unity party members of stashing
weapons in its headquarters in Port-au-Prince, the capital.

Opposition leaders claimed the arrests were part of a clampdown on
opponents by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's government.

"The building is the hide-out of a gang of bandits," said police
spokesman Jean-Dady Simeon. He said a cache of weapons was discovered in
a false ceiling during Wednesday's raid.

Four men and one woman were arrested and charged with illegal possession
of weapons, Simeon said.

Evans Paul, an opposition party leader, disputed the police account,
saying six party members had been arrested. He said the weapons were
planted to justify the arrests.

"It's a staged event, designed to mask the ruling party's clampdown on
the opposition," Paul said. "Aristide preaches peace, but practices

The government has recently accused the opposition of plotting a coup
with ex-soldiers from the disbanded Haitian army. The opposition has
denied it is plotting to overthrow Aristide and said the government is
looking for excuses to detain opposition partisans.

Authorities rounded up at least 41 people -- mostly opposition
sympathizers -- after July 28 attacks on a police academy and three
police stations in which five police officers will killed and 14

Opposition spokesman Paul Denis said six of those detained are still in
custody on subversion charges.

Aristide's first government was ended by a 1991 military coup. After he
was restored to power by a U.S. military invasion in 1994, Aristide
disbanded the army, incorporating 1,000 of its soldiers into a
6,000-member police force.

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company