Kidnap deals blow to UN Haiti plan

PORT-AU-PRINCE - A parliamentary ally of Jean- Bertrand Aristide, the exiled President, has been kidnapped by gunmen in another blow to United Nations efforts to return Fr Aristide to power, two private radio stations said yesterday.

The report came nine days before a deadline for the return of Haiti's first democratically elected President and for the removal from their posts of army and police leaders behind the 1991 coup that ousted him.

A senior parliamentary deputy said on Wednesday there was not enough time to resolve political disputes before the 30 October deadline for Fr Aristide's return. A US embassy spokesman, Stanley Schrager, also conceded it would be difficult to keep to the UN plan's schedule, but insisted the plan was 'not yet dead'.

The radio reports said Samuel Milord, a member of the Aristide coalition, National Front for Change and Democracy, was kidnapped late on Wednesday in the central Debussy area of the capital, according to family members. The reports by Radio Tropic FM and the Protestant Radio Lumiere could not be immediately confirmed.

Mr Milord, an engineer, was one of the first legislators to denounce the coup two years ago and refused to take part in parliamentary sessions in which lawmakers were forced at gunpoint to declare the presidency vacant.

Like many Aristide supporters, Mr Milord went into hiding after the coup; he has recently emerged in public. Houses of two relatives were attacked by army-backed gangs in his native Desdune area of the north-central Artibonite Valley.

Mr Milord and Fignole Jean-Louis, both deputies in Haiti's lower hous, said two weeks ago their names were on hit-lists. Mr Jean-Louis said he learnt of the lists from a contact in the military who is close to shadowy civilian gangs.

WASHINGTON - A US Coast Guard cutter helping to enforce the UN embargo fired warning shots across the bow of a Haiti-bound merchant ship last night after it refused to change course. The vessel, registered in the Caribbean island group of Turks and Caicos, was 13 miles north of Haiti when it was sighted, AP reports.