PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haiti’s top police officer said Tuesday that all street demonstrations are banned for Wednesday, when former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide heads to court for a rare public outing that is expected to draw thousands of his supporters.
National Police director Godson Aurelus said on Radio Vision 2000 that protests are prohibited because police will be busy providing security for Aristide as he travels by caravan from his home and back. Officers also will be present along the route to the courthouse in downtown Port-au-Prince.
“If there are street protests, the police have the orders to break them,” Aurelus warned. “Any street protests tomorrow will be illegal.”
Aristide is due in court to answer questions from an investigative judge on the unresolved case of a slain radio journalist. Jean Dominique, once a close friend to Aristide, was gunned down along with his security guard in the courtyard of his radio station in April 2000.
With the police ban on demonstrations, there were worries about possible street clashes. Thousands of Aristide’s supporters are expected to show up outside the courthouse and rally on his behalf, which could lead to a confrontation with police.
The court hearing will be the first public excursion by Aristide since he returned to Haiti from exile in March 2011. His only public appearance so far came when he made a few remarks about national reconciliation on television a few months later when President Michel Martelly paid him a visit at home as part of a series of meetings with former Haitian leaders.
On Sunday, hotelier Richard Morse told The Associated Press that Aristide might be returning to politics, although he described Aristide’s role not as a candidate but as a “coach” and “adviser.”
Morse said he had met with Aristide three times to discuss the possibility that his wife, a singer, run as a senatorial candidate under Aristide’s Lavalas political party in elections that are supposed to be held this year.
Morse was once one of Aristide’s biggest supporters in the 1990s, but he later became one of the leader’s biggest critics.
Blocking the planned demonstration was a dumb move! It demonstrates fear of the unknown. Let Aristide try to spend a lot of money, in an effort to create an incident, and see just how much power remains.
His effort would probably mirror past efforts. A lot of money spent for a miserably small crowd.
Now Martelly has given Aristide the upper hand by showing his anxiety.
Martelly has some crummy advisors!
But we have known this since day one.