Haitian police accused of coup plot arrested in Dominican Republic
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) -- Six Haitian police
officers accused of plotting to assassinate the country's top leaders and
stage a coup were arrested as they crossed the border to the Dominican
Republic, Dominican and Haitian officials said.
Wednesday night's announcement comes a day after Haiti's Premier
Jacques-Edouard Alexis said the government was beginning an
investigation into unidentified police officers allegedly plotting to destabilize the
impoverished, restive country two weeks before presidential elections.
The situation in Haiti is extremely tense ahead of elections planned for
that are expected to return to power Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the controversial
ex-president. Major opposition parties plan to boycott the vote.
Miguel Soto, secretary of the Dominican armed forces, said six Haitians
uniform were arrested Monday and brought to Santo Domingo, the Dominican
capital, for interrogation on Wednesday.
"It seems they were implicated in a coup d'etat," Soto told The Associated Press.
In Haiti, leading Sen. Gerard Gilles told The Associated Press that the
planning to assassinate Aristide, his protege and successor President Rene Preval
and Alexis, the premier. Gilles is from Aristide's Lavalas Family party.
Gilles said the men would be extradited to Haiti on Thursday.
Aristide, a former Catholic priest, was Haiti's first freely elected leader
ousted by a military coup in 1991. Aristide was reinstated by a 1994 U.S.-led
invasion of the Caribbean country. He then disbanded Haiti's army and replaced it
with a civilian police force.
Radio Marien, a private Dominican radio station, quoted one of those arrested,
whom it did not identify by name, as saying they were fleeing into Dominican
territory from a Haitian mob threatening to kill them.
Preval was in Venezuela to sign an oil agreement along with recently installed
Dominican President Hipolito Mejia, who told reporters "I don't believe that this
is very important. If Preval were worried about it, he would not be here."
Haiti's main opposition leader, Gerard Pierre Charles of the Struggling
Organization, said he believed the "supposed conspiracy" was an attempt to derail
talks brokered by the Organization of American States to end the opposition
boycott and allow a competitive presidential election.
The opposition called the boycott because they charge legislative elections
this year were rigged. Pro-Aristide candidates won 80 percent of the seats.
Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.