The Miami Herald
Feb. 02, 2004

Aristide's opponents renew marches

Thousands of demonstrators calling for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's resignation march in Haiti's capital a day after an order to limit protests was lifted.

  PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- (AP) -- Tens of thousands of government opponents marched peacefully Sunday to call for President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's resignation, a day after the embattled leader rescinded a police order restricting street protests.

  The demonstration began at a park in suburban Petionville, and protesters walked almost 10 miles to the capital protected by a contingent of police.

  ''We're fed up with Aristide. I'm marching to demand his resignation and to say we have to prepare his succession,'' said law student Paul Jean, 23.

  The demonstration was organized by the Democratic Platform, a coalition of opposition political parties and civil society groups.

  A similar march brought out more than 15,000 protesters Tuesday, the same day police restricted demonstrations to a seaside square far from the palace.

  Aristide rescinded the police order Saturday, announcing the move at a one-day meeting with Caribbean leaders in Jamaica that addressed ways to end a three-year
  political impasse in Haiti.

  He also vowed to disarm politically affiliated gangs, reform the police force and implement other measures to end the country's recent unrest.

  ''Everybody has a right to demonstrate as long as everybody follows the law and works with the police in planning demonstrations,'' Aristide said at the airport late
  Saturday after returning from Jamaica.

  Police broke up three student demonstrations last week with tear gas, saying they weren't complying with a 1987 decree requiring protesters to submit plans two days
  before and to give names of participants. Student leaders say they have respected the order.

  Few pro-government demonstrations have been disrupted, prompting criticism from rights groups who said Aristide's government was trampling on a constitutional
  guarantee that protects freedom of assembly.

  The Americas' poorest country has been in turmoil since Aristide's party swept the 2000 legislative elections observers said were flawed. Since September, at least 50
  people have been killed and more than 100 wounded.

  The opposition says it will not hold talks with the government or participate in elections unless Aristide resigns. Aristide has said he plans to serve until 2006.