The Miami Herald
May 27, 2001

Haiti group: No talks without the release of activists

 PORT-AU-PRINCE -- (AP) -- Haiti's opposition leader said Saturday that he won't participate in talks with President Jean-Bertrand Aristide unless two detained activists are released.

 The challenge comes three days before the arrival of Organization of American States Secretary General Cesar Gaviria, who is expected to try to bring the two sides

 On Saturday, black-clad police with face masks entered a suburban restaurant where former Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril was signing his new book. Avril, an advisor to former dictators Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier, was led away in handcuffs and accused of plotting against national security.

 In 1988, two years after Jean-Claude Duvalier fled to France, Prosper Avril and a group of mutinous troops overthrew the government of then-President Henri Namphy.

 Avril stayed in power for 18 months before resigning under international pressure and fleeing to Florida, where he lived for years. He now heads a right-wing political party, called Credo, and is in his mid-60s.

 Gerard Gourgue, the head of the 15-party opposition alliance Convergence, said Saturday that it would not hold talks "in the climate of repression the government has imposed.''

 Gourgue demanded both Avril and activist Gabriel Fortune be released. Fortune was arrested Monday after a shootout at a meeting of Haitian opposition leaders.

                                    © 2001