September 18, 2000

Thousands march to demand resignation of Haiti's government

                 PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Thousands of protesters marched in central
                 Haiti on Monday to demand the resignation of a legislature controlled by the
                 Lavalas Family Party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

                 Radio stations reported that about 5,000 people marched, which would be the
                 biggest protest since recent elections.

                 "Down with Lavalas! Down with Aristide!" demonstrators shouted as they
                 marched from the village of Papaye to nearby Hinche, about 45 miles northeast of

                 Sporadic gunfire toward the end of the march triggered panic among the
                 demonstrators, but no injuries were reported and the protest ended peacefully.

                 The march was organized by the Papaye Peasants' Movement, the biggest rural
                 workers' organization in Haiti, and was endorsed by the opposition Convergence

                 The opposition accuses President Rene Preval's government of rigging local and
                 legislative elections in May, June and July in favor of Lavalas. Preval's critics
                 have also charged Lavalas with being behind street violence aimed at opposition

                 "The Lavalas Family is trying to gag any expression of opposition to (Aristide's)
                 plan to establish a dictatorship," said Gerard Pierre-Charles, spokesman for the
                 former parliamentary majority.

                 The Organization of American States has expressed doubts about the way
                 candidates were selected for the second round of the elections. The European
                 Union and the United States have threatened to withhold funds, or channel them
                 through non-governmental agencies, if Haiti does not revise the results.

                  Copyright 2000 The Associated Press.