April 19, 2000
Haiti politician kidnapped as election nears

                   PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) -- In the latest episode of escalating political
                   violence just a month before Haiti's long-awaited elections, a Haitian opposition
                   politician has been kidnapped from his home, party members said on

                   Claudy Myrthil, a candidate for town representative and member of the coalition
                   Espace de Concertation party, was forced from his home in Martissant on the
                   outskirts of the capital on Tuesday before dawn by four men in a red Isuzu
                   pick-up truck with a covered license plate, witnesses said. Myrthil has not been
                   heard from since.

                   "This is yet another act, added to a host of others, to pressure candidates, to
                   pressure voters, and to ultimately create an atmosphere so that elections benefit
                   only one sector," Micha Gaillard, Port-au-Prince mayoral candidate for the
                   Espace de Concertation party, said.

                   Numerous political parties have been targets of violence in recent weeks and
                   some 10 political killings have occurred in less than a month.

                   Legislative and municipal elections that have been delayed repeatedly in the past
                   six months appeared to be back on track on Tuesday when President Rene
                   Preval issued a decree setting May 21 and June 25 for the two election rounds.

                   "Can free, honest and democratic elections be held when candidates are being
                   kidnapped?" Gaillard asked.

                   The elections are expected to reestablish parliament, which Preval dissolved in
                   January 1999 to end an 18-month political impasse.

                   Among other recent incidents, unknown assailants shot and hacked to death a
                   rural assembly candidate from the Christian Movement for a New Haiti party,
                   Merilus Deus, and attacked his daughter with a machete about 10 days ago in the
                   town of Savanette, northeast of the capital.

                   The Espace de Concertation party's headquarters were burned down on April 8
                   by protesters claiming allegiance to former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
                   following the funeral of a prominent journalist who was shot to death.

                   Several journalists and politicians have gone underground.

                   Following a military coup that ousted Aristide, Haiti's first democratically elected
                   president, the United States led a multinational invasion that restored Aristide to
                   power in 1994.

                   The United States maintained a permanent base in Haiti until early this year.

                   The United Nations retains a mission in Haiti to help strengthen democratic
                   institutions but a legacy of decades of dictatorship and unchecked drug
                   trafficking severely threaten meager democratic gains.

                      Copyright 2000 Reuters.