PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (Reuters) -- In the latest episode of escalating
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,
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
some 10 political killings have occurred in less than a month.
Legislative and municipal elections that have been delayed repeatedly in
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
kidnapped?" Gaillard asked.
The elections are expected to reestablish parliament, which Preval dissolved
January 1999 to end an 18-month political impasse.
Among other recent incidents, unknown assailants shot and hacked to death
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
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
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.