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Thousands march for Haiti's leader

Published Aug. 27, 2005

More than 20,000 Haitians marched in support of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Wednesday after police fired tear gas to prevent about 200 of his opponents from demonstrating.

It was the second time in three days police have used tear gas against antigovernment protesters. Police also fired warning shots into the air as the anti-Aristide group was about to set off from Haiti's state university. Several minor injuries were reported.

Just blocks away, meanwhile, a progovernment demonstration swelled to thousands of people.

The Democratic Platform _ a coalition of opposition parties, clergy, students and business leaders _ refuses to participate in new legislative elections unless Aristide resigns. It also wants to set up a transitional government until elections can be held in two years.

Demonstrations against Aristide have surged in the past four months, some turning violent and claiming the lives of 47 people.

Pressure has been building on Aristide's government since his party won 2000 legislative elections that observers said were flawed.

Members of the opposition coalition are meeting with Caribbean leaders in Bahamas to address grievances they have against Aristide. The Haitian opposition has refused to allow government representatives participate in the Bahamas session.