In the early hours of Monday morning, as most of the nation slept, a pack of armed commandos stormed Haiti’s NationalPalace in a coup attempt that left seven dead and scores wounded. The violence lasted until mid-morning yesterday,as police faced off attackers inside the palace and thousands of government supporters gathered outside. Shouting,"We will never support another coup d’etat," they then set fire to the headquarters of the opposition Convergencealliance as well as to the home of the alliance’s leader.
By afternoon, relative calm had been restored to the island, and President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was able to addressthe nation with what he called his "message of peace." Neither he nor his wife was in the Palace at the time of theattack, and both remained unharmed along with other members of the government.
While no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, it is widely believed that it was orchestrated by theformer police chief of northern Cap-Hatien city, Guy Philipe. Philipe fled the country for the neighboring DominicanRepublic last year along with seven police officers when they were accused of plotting a coup against then presidentRene Preval.
The attempted coup came exactly eleven years and one day after President Aristide was first voted into office on aplatform of "participation, transparence and justice." He stayed in power only eight months before a bloody militarycoup forced him from Haiti in 1991. After three years in exile, he was finally returned to the country with thesupport of US troops and the promise of aid and assistance from the international community. He remained in office16 months before term limits forced him to step down in 1996. He was replaced by his protégé, Rene Preval, whogoverned the country until elections once again placed Aristide in power last year.
- Kim Ives, Editor, Haiti Progres.
- Jean Gerard Debreuil, secretary of state for public defense in Haiti.