Days of Mourning Declared for Second Victim in Council Attack
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ The government designated today and Tuesday as days of mourning for a lawmaker who was fatally wounded in a gun attack last week on the governing Council of State.
Serge Villard, a council member and an author of Haiti’s 1987 constitution, died Sunday while being flown by air ambulance to Miami for emergency treatment, said Commerce Minister Maurice Lafortune.
Villard, 66, was shot three times in Thursday’s attack in the courtyard of a hotel where the 19-member council had gathered for a meeting with political and union leaders.
Four gunmen, including two in army uniform, sprayed the group with gunfire shortly before the meeting was to begin.
Union militant Jean-Marie Montes was killed in the attack, and Villard and political activist Emmanuel Mani were wounded.
President Ertha Pascal-Trouillot was to meet with the council today. The independent Radio Antilles said the council held an emergency meeting with army officials Sunday in the National Palace.
Today and Tuesday, flags were flying at half-staff and cinemas and other places of amusement were asked to close. State offices and commercial businesses were to be open, however.
Villard, a prominent businessman, was a leading opponent of the 29-year dictatorship of the Duvalier family, which ended in 1986.
Villard authored Article 291 of the constitution, which banned known supporters of the Duvaliers from running for public office for 10 years after the adoption of the constitution in 1987.
His death heightened concern over possible violence in reaction to the attack. On Saturday, thousands of factories workers stayed home and most stores and gas stations closed for the day to mourn the victims of the attack.
Thursday’s attack was seen as an attempt to increase tensions and block the government from holding presidential balloting this fall. Haiti’s attempt to hold free and fair elections, on Nov. 29, 1987, resulted in the massacre of at least 34 voters at polling stations.
Mrs. Pascal-Trouillot said in a speech late Saturday on television and radio that the government was determined to hold the elections. She said the army had been ordered to crack down on violent street crime, which has created a climate of insecurity in the country.
The civilian caretaker government Mrs. Pascal-Trouillot leads was appointed in March to replace military ruler Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril, who fled into exile after a weeklong popular uprising.