Rebel soldiers seize town in Haiti and defy premier

[ Recall that the U.S.-installed leader of Haiti, Latortue, was to replace the Lavalas Party’s democratically elected Aristide because of Aristide’s alleged failures. Aristide’s failures were in large part due to U.S. policies designed to punish him for failing to give in to Washington’s neo-liberal agenda. What of Latortue’s? –BL ]

1 Sept 2004 | Reuters

by Joseph Guyler Delva in Port-au-Prince

Former soldiers who in February helped overthrow Haiti’s then president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, have taken over a town to back their demands to set up a new army.

Yesterday they were out in camouflage uniforms trying to win support in the southern town of Petit Goave after chasing out police on Saturday. Haiti’s interim prime minister, Gerard Latortue, sent a delegation to negotiate, but it was turned away by rock-throwing supporters of the soldiers.

Rebel leaders had warned Mr Latortue weeks ago to expect trouble if he did not reinstate Haiti’s army, disbanded by Mr Aristide in the 1990s. The ex-soldiers also say they are owed 10 years’ back pay.

Some Aristide supporters in Petit Goave fled in fear for their lives. “It is incredibly tough for our militants, who are the principal targets for those criminals,” said Sidney Claudy, a leader of Aristide’s Lavalas Family party, in the capital, Port-au-Prince, 35 miles away. Several thousand Aristide supporters took to the streets in Port-au-Prince.

On Monday, France’s junior foreign minister, Renaud Muselier, came under attack when gang members in the Cite Soleil slum fired at a hospital he was visiting.

He and his entourage were able to leave only after troops from a UN peacekeeping force intervened with armoured vehicles and a helicopter.

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