MARCHAND DESSALINES, Haiti — Haitian President René Préval began the wrap-up of his five-year presidential mandate Sunday, asking Haitians to vote stability and continuity in the approaching elections.
Préval and his government ministers traveled to this rural community in the Artibonite Valley to commemorate the 204th anniversary of the assassination of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a founding father of the nation, who led the army that helped Haiti win its independence by defeating the French.
Recalling the country's violent history, Préval told Haitians that violence has no place either before, during or after the Nov. 28 balloting in which 19 candidates are jockeying for the presidency, and more than 900 are seeking 110 parliamentary seats.
Still, as he pleaded for peace, Haitians were once again reminded at how precarious life in their quake-ravaged homeland can become.
Three prisoners were shot dead inside the National Penitentiary in downtown Port-au-Prince Sunday after a botched jail break. The prisoners were shot by prison guards as they attempted to flee.
Also seven people, including three U.N. police advisors, were held against their will inside the prison before escaping after gunfire triggered panic inside the prison, said UN Police spokesman Andre Leclerc.
The incident began at about 10:30 a.m., just as Préval and members of his government sat down to take part in a Roman Catholic Mass to commemorate Dessalines' death.
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