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Shots, Fires Erupt on Haiti Political Front : Violence Comes as Electoral Council Bans Duvalierists

November 03, 1987|Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Candidates' homes were raked by machine-gun bullets and arson fires broke out today at the office of the Provisional Electoral Council, hours after some former officials of ousted dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier were barred from running for president.

An electoral council member said the fire at the council headquarters was arson, and he blamed "the enemies of democracy."

The first floor of the downtown council headquarters on Pavee Street was destroyed by fire shortly after midnight, and the heavy iron door was broken down. Most of the council's material was destroyed, including thousands of posters calling on Haitians to vote.

A few blocks away, Continental Trading, a business operated by electoral council member Emmanuel Ambroise, was destroyed by a fire that began about the same time.

Targets of Gunfire

Also today, shots reportedly were fired in the party headquarters of presidential candidate Sylvio Claude and at the offices of a regional electoral office and the home of a senatorial candidate.

The offices were reported riddled by bullets, and one radio station said a security guard was wounded.

The nine members of the independent electoral council have vowed to risk their lives to uphold a ban on Duvalierists from running for public office. The prohibition is part of a new constitution approved after Duvalier fled into exile in February, 1986, ending nearly 30 years of a family dictatorship.

On Monday, the council released the names of 23 approved presidential candidates, thereby disqualifying 12--all of them supporters of the Duvalier regime.

Protests Forecast

They included Clovis Desinor, a finance minister under Duvalier, who said last month that if his candidacy was rejected, "I expect the people . . . to go to the street."

Also barred were several former Duvalier government ministers, two former army chiefs of staff, and deputies.

Claude, one of the seven major presidential candidates, told Radio Metropole that the attack on his office would not prevent him from running in the presidential election, scheduled for Nov. 29.

Claude, of the center-left Christian Democratic Party, is a bitter opponent of the military-dominated junta and of Duvalierist candidates. The three-man junta has governed since Duvalier's ouster and is to turn power over to the elected government.

Radio Haiti Inter said shots were fired in the regional electoral office in Delmas, on the north side of Port-au-Prince, wounding a security guard.

Shots also were fired at the home and car of senatorial candidate Reynold Georges, the radio said. Georges told Radio Metropole he believed Duvalierists angered at the electoral council decision were responsible.

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