September 10, 2002

Merchants protest in Jamaican capital

                 KINGSTON, Jamaica (Reuters) -- Troops and police patrolled streets in
                 Jamaica's capital Kingston on Tuesday to prevent trouble as merchants shut
                 their shops to protest government delays in improving conditions in the
                 volatile downtown area.

                 Among the problems cited were rising crime, a thriving extortion business,
                 competition from sidewalk vendors, bad road and water conditions, and
                 intimidation from thugs.

                 "This is neither a protest nor a confrontation. We are doing this to try to restore law
                 and order and to urge government to place downtown Kingston on its list of
                 national priorities," said Michael Ammar, president of the Jamaica Chamber of

                 Along the usually busy King Street all stores were closed. About 200 shops joined
                 the protest.

                 Police and soldiers were out in huge numbers but there was no sign of violence.

                    Copyright 2002 Reuters.