Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

International Day of Solidarity: Protests in Haiti

AHP News – February 7, 2007 – English translation (Unofficial) �

Tens of thousands of Fanmi Lavalas supporters demonstrate peacefully on the occasion of the 16th anniversary of the first time a democratically elected president (Jean-Bertrand Aristide) took office in Haiti �

Port-au-Prince, February 7, 2007 (AHP)- The streets of the capital were filled with tens of thousands of members and supporters of � Fanmi Lavalas demonstrating peacefully to mark the 16th anniversary of the first inauguration of Jean-Bertrand Aristide as president of Haiti. �

The demonstrators spoke out on a number of issues, particularly calling for the release of the remaining political prisoners incarcerated under the Latortue regime, the departure of the UN force and the return of all who were forced into exile for political reasons, primarily former president Aristide, who was forced to depart on February 29, 2004. �

Wearing t-shirts depicting Mr. Aristide and carrying placards and branches of trees, the demonstrators commenced their march outside the Saint-Jean Bosco Church in La Saline, proceeded down the Delmas highway, paused outside the headquarters of the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) and the office of the Prime Minister, before concluding their march in front of the National Palace. �

All along their route, they chanted slogans denouncing the violence and exclusion which they said they have faced ever since February 29, 2004. �

In front of the public square known as “Place Miel” (Honey Square), which was inaugurated by the former president now in exile, they criticized the Group of 184 (opponents of Aristide) whom they accused of having inflamed emotions and exacerbated division in Haiti,� plunging the country further into misery, in collaboration with the interim government of Latortue. �

Outside the headquarters of the Provisional Electoral Council, they accused Council president Max Mathurin of having organized massive fraud at the time of the last elections that they said was designed to exclude Haiti’s majority from governance. �

Speakers at the march, such as Lavalas Deputy Jonas Coffi and a former candidate for a seat in the Lower House, Marc Foreste Cass�us, said that the current CEP is the most deviously mischievous and incompetent of all of the CEPs in Haiti’s history, and remains incapable of publishing the election results two months after Haitians went to the polls on December 3, 2006. �

As they approached the Prime Minster’s office, the demonstrators denounced the fact that there are still political prisoners incarcerated under a constitutional and democratic government. �

” Why is it that people who were thrown in prison by an illegitimate government for political reasons continue to languish behind bars, while notorious criminals and others who escaped from prison after they had been locked up because of their participation in massacres continue to walk the streets freely”, they asked, suggesting that Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis has some explaining to do.� �

They also asked the head of the government to clarify the statements of MINUSTAH officials insisting that every operation conducted by the UN force in Cit� Soleil, which left innocent victims, had the prior approval of the Haitian government. �

As they�arrived at the MINUSTAH headquarters in Bourdon, their emotions stirred, the demonstrators called for the departure of the UN force whose mandate expires in mid-February. �

They blamed the UN mission in large part for the violence committed against the population. �

“They have always stood by, their arms crossed, as massacres take place, organized by police officers together with members of the� Timanch�t Army in the populist districts under the interim government”, they protested, outraged at the fact that all of the investigations that were announced have come to nothing, such as the investigation into the massacre at the National Penitentiary on December 1, 2004. �

The coordinator of the� Fondation 30 Septembre (September 30 Foundation), Lovinski Pierre-Antoine, asserted that MINUSTAH is not worthy of the mission of stabilization and democracy that it claims to fulfill.� � �

Outside the National Palace, declaring that President Pr�val is insensitive to the suffering of the population and of those who languish behind bars, the demonstrators urged him to demonstrate prudence toward those the protesters called “opportunists”. �

“Those who raise their glasses in toast with you today are the same ones who will be fomenting plots aimed at throwing you into the abyss”, they shouted in the direction of the president, asking him to remain loyal to his historic base while at the same time being a president who represents all Haitians. �

The demonstration, with security provided by the National Police, proceeded without incident. �

Demonstrators rallying by the thousands also gathered in provincial cities, notably Cap-Haitien, Saint-Marc and Mirago�ne to commemorate February 7th. �

February 7, 2007 also marks the 21st anniversary of the end of the dictatorship of the Duvaliers and the first anniversary of the second election of Mr. Pr�val as President of Haiti. �

AHP February 7th, 2007� 5:35 PM

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