[News] Haiti: Opposition demo - serious internal divisions

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Mon Feb 16 08:56:08 EST 2004

AHP News February 15 2004
English translation (Unofficial)

Serious internal divisions at an opposition demonstratiom in 
Port-au-Prince: acts of vandalism are committed against members of the public

Port-au-Prince, February 15, 2004 -(AHP)- A serious internal split led to 
the premature end of an anti-government demonstration held Sunday by the 
opposition political Platform led by industrialist André Apaid, Junior.

The misunderstanding took place as a significant proportion of the 
demonstrators, led by one of the coalition leaders,  Hervé Saintilus, 
refused around mid-day to follow the route for the march that had 
previously been agreed upon with the police.

A real problem over leadership and authority thus manifest itself within 
the Platform of the 184, as the two most senior leaders,  André Apaid, 
Junior and Charles Henri Baker quickly disappeared, announcing, but without 
being heard, the end of the demonstration.

As it happened, the demonstrators following Saintilus subsequently 
committed acts of vandalism in Delmas 34 et Delmas 41, where the group 
smashed the windshields of numerous vehicles, citing as pretext that they 
had been attacked.

The victims accused the top leaders of the Platform of having unleashed, 
they said, wild beasts to "devour the population".

The majority of the murders committed by opposition supporters during 
recent demonstrations by the Platform are the result of the refusal of the 
demonstrators to keep to the routes for the march that had been previously 

The demonstration on this February 15th drew little more than 3,000 to 
4,000 people.

The last demonstration by the Fanmi Lavalas Political organization drew 
some 300,000 people from across Port-au-Prince on February 7 according to 
independent sources and over a million people according to the organizers.

Opposition leaders, who recognized the failure of their demonstration 
sought to explain it by the fact that the police had organized, they said, 
searches in several streets of the capital very early in the morning.

However many sectors of the population declared that they were disappointed 
at the fact that the opposition political coalition is involved in armed 
struggle in its attempt to oust the government, through the lethal violence 
committed in  Gonaïves and in other areas in the  north of Haiti.

They said they were particularly disappointed that the opposition is 
utilizing the services of individuals who carry a reputation as criminals 
and coup leaders, such as Jean Tatoune, Louis Jodel Chamblain (FRAPH) and 
Guy Philipppe.

Many opposition supporters also declared they were discouraged by the 
latest joint communiqué by the United States, Canada, the OAS and CARICOM, 
which on Friday called specifically on the political opposition and civil 
society to act in a responsible manner, to refrain from all acts of 
violence, to assume their responsibilities and to become involved in the 
democratic process consistent with CARICOM's latest proposal for resolving 
the crisis.

Several of the opposition supporters expressed hope that all the actors 
will return to the negotiating table in order to find a peaceful way out of 
the crisis.

AHP February 15, 2004 1:30PM.

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