Haitians `warned of Durocher death plot'

The US peace force hands over to the UN in Haiti today but lawlessness still rules, writes Phil Davison in Port-au-Prince

As President Bill Clinton prepared to visit Haiti today and hand over security to the United Nations, US officials said they had warned the Haitian government of the plot to kill a leading opposition politician, Mireille Durocher.

Mme Durocher, an outspoken critic of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was shot dead on Tuesday with her driver in an incident seen as aimed at disrupting the US President's visit and the democratic process.

Her family blamed supporters of Mr Aristide and US forces for failing to maintain security in the capital. However, a US embassy spokesman, Stanley Schrager, said yesterday that US forces had warned of a plot to kill the lawyer-politician and had detained four men on 19 March. She apparently rejected a bodyguard or added security.

President Aristide's spokespersons said his supporters would have had nothing to do with the killing. Some pro-Aristide Haitians expressed surprise over the murder. Four men, including two brothers, Eddy and Patrick Moise - radicals who have often praised Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi - had been detained. If they were involved in the plot, would their co-plotters not have called off the killing, these Haitians ask.

Confusion increased as Larry Rohter, a reporter for the New York Times, said he had seen Mme Durocher in Camp Democracy, the biggest US base here, on Tuesday morning, a few hours before she was killed.

President Clinton is due to perform a symbolic handover to the UN Secretary- General, Boutros Boutros Ghali, today during an 11-hour visit.

Some 2,500 US troops will stay on, donning blue helmet covers and painting jeeps white, as part of a 6,000-strong UN force due to spend a year here. Six months after the peaceful occupation of 19 September, Mr Schrager insisted yesterday that "we have created a safe and secure environment for the transition to democracy" - local elections in June and a November presidential ballot.

Many Haitians disagree. Bustling during the day since a lifted embargo restored petrol imports, Port-au-Prince is an eerie ghost town at night. The US and UN forces appear to lie low and armed civilians still have the run of the town.

Tuesday's murder of Mme Durocher, who had just set up a nationalist political party to oppose Mr Aristide, and the shooting on Wednesday of two US missionaries in the southern town of Jacmel added to the atmosphere of lawlessness. Few believe Mr Schrager's explanation that the wounded Americans were shot for money. Despite extreme poverty - per capita income is estimated at only $230 a year, or roughly 40p a day - robbing foreigners remains remarkably uncommon.

Mr Clinton may see anti-American graffiti on Port-au-Prince walls, but he may draw comfort from the fact that most is clearly by the same hand.

Apathy among Haitians is most likely to welcome him as he meets President Aristide, chats to 200 US troops - the vast majority on security detail - and hands over the security reins to the UN. Although the poor majority welcomed the occupation and the departure of the former military rulers, disillusion grew as the Americans failed to guarantee street security or raise the standard of living. On Wednesday, thousands gathered near the presidential palace demanding higher living standards and greater security.

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Travel
travel
Voices
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations should be regarded as an offensive act
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
people
News
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Environment
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
News
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Hydraulic Power Pack Design Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I recruit for contract mechanical design...

SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

SCO Supervisor Electrical

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client based in the Midlands is looki...

Ecommerce Executive

£20000 - £24000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Ecommerce Executive Working with an...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices