Port-au-Prince, Haiti: A senior official of ousted president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s Lavalas Family party was freed late on Tuesday, December 6, 2005 by unidentified gunmen, who had earlier demanded a $200,000 ransom.

Emmanuel Cantave was kidnapped on Saturday while driving on a main road, close to the slum of Cite Soleil in the Haitian capital, leading to the northern region.

“Cantave has been released on Tuesday night after the payment of a ransom,” Franky Exius, a former legislator who lead the negotiations with the abductors told the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) on Wednesday.

He did not say how much money had been paid to free the first high profile Aristide’s party official to have been kidnapped, but he said he had been “released in good conditions”.

On Tuesday, Exius said the abductors had initially demanded a $200,000 ransom, but later agreed to release him for $10,000.

Colleagues at the party collected $7,000, which they sent to the kidnappers, but other bandits stole the money.

Over the past seven days, a radio journalist, a US missionary, 11 schoolchildren and about a dozen other people have been kidnapped. But they have all been released after the ransom demands had been met.

Police officials say over 1,000 abductions have taken place in the country, since March, this year.