Gunfire erupts during Haiti march


Renewed violence has broken out in the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, during a march by opponents of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The march by thousands of protesters started peacefully, but the crowd scattered when gunmen opened fire.

Police fired back and managed to restore order, allowing the march to resume without further trouble.

Reports say one man was wounded in the incident, which is the latest in a series of clashes in recent weeks.

The protest march began as up to 10,000 people assembled after Sunday morning mass, shouting anti-Aristide slogans.

But the first signs of violence came when government supporters waiting on rooftops and behind walls started throwing stones at the demonstrators.

A few blocks later, they were fired on by gunmen hidden behind Haiti‘s state television centre.

While the crowd scattered, dozens of heavily-armed police took up defensive positions in an effort to restore order.

Later, the protesters regrouped and finished their march through the capital.

Coup fears

On Friday, several people were injured when police fired warning shots and tear gas to stop a crowd of mourners from approaching the presidential palace.

The mourners were carrying the coffin of a college graduate, Maxime Deselmour, who was shot dead during a previous anti-Aristide protest.

The BBC’s Claire Marshall in Port-au-Prince says the anti-government demonstrations, which are growing in intensity and scale, are starting to pose a real threat to the Haitian leader’s administration.

Our correspondent says that on Saturday, President Aristide acknowledged this for the first time, saying that a coup would mean death for the country.

Mr Aristide has promised to hold general elections within the next six months, but the opposition says it will not take part unless the president steps down first.

Mr Aristide has rejected the opposition calls to resign and says he will serve out his full term in office, which ends in 2006.