April 5, 2000

Mob sacks election office in Haiti

                   PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- A mob protesting alleged bias by elections
                   officials sacked a provincial office and burned voting materials, the private
                   Radio Signal FM reported Wednesday.

                   The attack occurred Tuesday in Jeremie, about 200 kilometers (130
                   miles) west of Port-au-Prince, the capital. Calling for the resignation of a
                   district elections bureau director, Henso Saintclair, dozens of people set up
                   flaming tire barricades in streets, removed materials from the election office and
                   burned them. Crowd control police later intervened to restore calm.

                   On Monday, Saintclair's home was destroyed in a fire. That incident was under

                   The protesters, composed of members of several left-wing groups and parties,
                   accused district election officials of favoring a center-left political coalition called
                   Space for Concord.

                   They also denounced Monday's assassination in Port-au-Prince of Haiti's most
                   prominent radio journalist, Jean Dominique, outside Radio Haiti Inter. There were
                   no arrests in the slaying.

                   Demonstrations against staffing of election offices have often turned violent in
                   southwestern Haiti's Grand'-Anse district. Three people were wounded in a
                   December protest that shut down the election office in Anse-D'Hainault.

                   At least 60 violent incidents have marred Haiti's turbulent electoral process since
                   October. Local and legislative elections have been postponed three times and
                   voting dates are uncertain.

                   Last week, four people were killed in demonstrations in the capital against the
                   electoral council. On Thursday, an opposition politician and his wife were slain in

                   "All of this violence has one objective: to halt the electoral process," said Serge
                   Gilles, spokesman for the Space for Concord coalition, who criticized police for
                   failing to protect the Jeremie elections office. "The government has done nothing
                   to stop the violence and we denounce this complicity."