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Coup Avoided In Haiti, Radio Station Reports

Mon., Sept. 30, 1996

Police foiled a coup plot by a group of decommissioned soldiers just hours before they planned to assassinate top government officials, a private Haitian radio station reported Sunday. Police were not available to confirm the report.

Officers arrested Sgt. Joseph Jean-Baptiste on Saturday at the home of Emmanuel Constant, former head of the violent pro-military organization Front for the Progress and Advancement of Haiti, according to Radio Haiti-Inter.

During the arrest, police discovered a cache of automatic weapons and grenades, along with a written plan for the coup, the radio station reported. The names of the targeted government officials were not divulged.

Jean-Baptiste’s group, the Committee of Soldiers Demands, represents former soldiers who have been out of work since the restoration of civilian rule in 1994 under then-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

The group has threatened violence to pressure the government to release imprisoned former soldiers and to pay back wages. It claims Aristide violated the constitution in dissolving the 7,500-member army several months after his return from exile in September 1994.

In June, several hundred of the former soldiers protested in the capital, threatening to take up arms.


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