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Haitian President Urges Calm Following Opposition Protests - 2004-01-12

Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide has called for peace in the country following several days of anti-government protests. Mr. Aristide made the appeal Monday before leaving for Monterrey, Mexico, to attend a special regional summit of the Americas. But Mr. Aristide's political opponents have vowed to continue the protests aimed at securing his resignation.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in the Haitian capital of Port-Au-Prince Sunday in the largest protest so far against the embattled president. Witnesses said Aristide supporters threw sticks at the marchers, but no injuries were reported.

In a separate protest in the town of Miragoane, an Aristide supporter was reportedly shot and killed during an anti-government protest. Mr. Aristide condemned the murder.

Opposition leaders began the strikes and mass protests last Thursday, shutting down most businesses in Port-Au-Prince.

Mr. Aristide's opponents have been staging protest marches for months, accusing the president of corruption and calling for his departure.

Mr. Aristide became Haiti's first democratically-elected leader in 1991. Since his re-election in 2000, he has been at odds with opponents over results of parliamentary elections that year, but has refused to step down. The president still has two years of a five-year term to serve.