August 19, 2002

Haitian protesters block major highway

                 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) -- Pro-government protesters used
                 burning barricades on Monday to stop traffic on Haiti's National Route 2, a
                 busy two-lane artery running the length of country's southern peninsula,
                 private Radio Haiti Inter reported.

                 The demonstrators, reported by t he station to number about 50, said they were
                 protesting the suspension to Haiti of international aid and what they said was a
                 destabilization campaign by the opposition Democratic Convergence coalition.

                 The radio report gave no details on the form of the barricades, set up at Leogane,
                 about 15 miles (24 km) west of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince. No arrests were

                 Haiti's president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has been locked in a two-year dispute with
                 the opposition over May 2000 legislative elections that Aristide's opponents say
                 were tabulated to favor his Lavalas Family party. Some $500 million in aid has been
                 suspended as a result of the dispute.

                 Tensions have escalated in Haiti in recent weeks. Three weeks ago, gang members
                 in the coastal city of Gonaives freed a gang leader and former Aristide militant,
                 Amiot Metayer, by attacking the local jail with a bulldozer. The attack set off days
                 of rioting in the city and the burning of several government buildings.

                 Last week, a dispute over elections at Haiti's state university, which students charge
                 were being delayed to favor candidates loyal to Lavalas, turned violent when
                 student protesters in front of the Ministry of Education were attacked by
                 government partisans. Three people were injured.

                    Copyright 2002 Reuters.