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Haiti Opposition to Launch Anti-Government Rally - 2004-02-15

Haiti is bracing for more anti-government demonstrations Sunday, with no end in sight for the standoff between police and armed opponents of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Opposition leaders called sunday's march in the capital, Port-Au-Prince, after armed government supporters stopped a similar protest on Thursday by blocking the protest route and pelting would-be demonstrators with rocks.

Protests against Mr. Aristide have been continuing since mid-September. Discontent has been growing in Haiti after Mr. Aristide's ruling party swept elections in the year 2000 that the opposition said were rigged.

The opposition is demanding the president resign, but Mr. Aristide has vowed to serve out his term, which ends in 2006.

In northern Haiti, armed militants are holding the country's fourth-largest city, Gonaives. The unrest has spread to much of area and claimed about 50 lives.

Haitian officials and humanitarian relief agencies warn that the unrest threatens the delivery of vital food aid to the north of the country.

U.S., Canadian and Caribbean governments have called for an end to the violence in Haiti and a peaceful resolution of differences between President Aristide and his opponents.

Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.