RealNews

Clashes mar Haiti anniversary

Haiti’s president has pledged to hold parliamentary elections this year, during a speech marking 200 years of independence from France. Jean Bertrand Aristide gave no date for the poll, but promised a wide-ranging programme to help the poor. Haiti became the world’s first black republic and the first country in the western hemisphere to abolish slavery. But anniversary celebrations have been marred by clashes between supporters and opponents of President Aristide. The opposition – which disputes the results of the last parliamentary elections in 2000 – boycotted the event. They also criticised a decision by South African President Thabo Mbeki to attend. His official helicopter was shot at by during the celebrations. Mr Mbeki was not present at the time, his spokesman Bheki Khumalo said. Full Story

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