PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Sept 19 (Reuters) – Riot police halted a
concert by one of Haiti’s most popular musical groups when the band began
playing a song viewed as critical of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide,
Radio Caraibes FM reported on Thursday.
     The Wednesday night concert by the band Boukman Eksperyans took place
on the Champs de Mars, a large plaza near the presidential palace in the
capital, Port-au-Prince.
     As the band launched into its song “Revolution,” which lists the
country’s ills and contains the line “Mr. President, I’m talking to you,”
officers from the Haitian National Police’s crowd-control division appeared
on stage and told the band its performance was finished.
     Band members and police officials were not immediately available for
     The incident comes amid what critics charge is a growing
heavy-handedness and authoritarianism in Aristide’s administration. A
recent march protesting government interference in the state university
system was halted by Aristide partisans wielding nail-studded boards and
     Aristide began his second term as president in January 2001. He has
been locked in a dispute with the Democratic Convergence opposition
coalition over May 2000 legislative elections that his opponents contend
were biased to favor Aristide’s Lavalas Family political party.
     The deadlock has stalled over $500 million in international aid.
     In a resolution earlier this month, the Organization of American
States called for a restoration of aid to Haiti, disarmament of political
militants and the arrest of those responsible for violence.
     On Thursday, about 200 anti-government protesters blocked traffic in
front of the state University of Haiti, waving Haitian flags and chanting
“Autonomy for the university!”
     “We are here to demand independence for the university and justice for
the country. We want autonomy to return to our university,” said humanities
student Guy Numa,
     The university conflict began in July after a student activists
affiliated with Lavalas went on a hunger strike. Submitting to their
demands, Education Minister Myrtho Celestin Saurel dismissed the university
vice chancellor and indefinitely suspended scheduled student and faculty
     The move outraged many students, who charged that the government was
trying to take control of the school and that their education had been
hijacked by a small number of well-connected political activists.
     University spokesman Henry Vernet said on Wednesday that the elections
would begin within a month.