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Six Arrested in Haiti

June 8, 2001

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) _ Haitian authorities stormed a suburban house and arrested six members of a minor opposition party on treason and terrorism charges, police said Thursday.

The six men were arrested by a special police force in Carrefour, on the southern outskirts of Port-au-Prince, police spokesman Jean-Dady Simeon said.

They included 46-year-old Lucien Gervais, who heads the United Forces for National Liberation, and other members of the group opposed to President Jean-Bertrand Aristide and his ruling party.

Leaders of two other opposition parties, including former dictator Prosper Avril, have been arrested on various charges in the past month.

And in the last two weeks, about 50 Haitians, mostly women and children, have taken refuge in the Dominican Republic, seeking U.S. asylum to flee what they claim is political persecution by Aristide supporters.

One of those seeking asylum is presidential candidate Paul Arthur Fleurival who ran against Aristide in the November elections.

The series of events is just ``part of a tactic designed to harass and eliminate any and all opposition to Aristide,″ said Gervais’ American wife in a telephone interview from El Salvador.

Police said they suspected her husband was planning a bombing campaign similar to bomb blasts in the run-up to November presidential elections that killed two children and injured about 20 people.

Police said they found material for making explosives in the house where they arrested Gervais _ material Mrs. Gervais believes was planted.

Gervais’s political group is not part of the 15-party opposition alliance Convergence but, like the coalition, Gervais’ group boycotted last year’s presidential ballot after tainted legislative elections.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid were frozen as a result and the country has suffered a political impasse for months, with Convergence demanding new general elections.

This week, the Organization of American States endorsed a proposal by Aristide promising new partial legislative elections by the end of the year.

But skeptical opposition leaders have rejected the plan.

Update hourly