Myanmar police file charges against Aung San Suu Kyi after coup

(Reuters) -Myanmar police have filed charges against ousted leader Aung San Suu Kyi for illegally importing communications equipment and she will be detained until Feb. 15 for investigations, according to a police document.

The move followed a military coup on Monday and the detention of Nobel Peace laureate Suu Kyi and other civilian politicians. The takeover cut short Myanmar’s long transition to democracy and drew condemnation from the United States and other Western countries.

A police request to a court detailing the accusations against Suu Kyi, 75, said six walkie-talkie radios had been found in a search of her home in the capital Naypyidaw. The radios were imported illegally and used without permission, it said.

The document reviewed on Wednesday requested Suu Kyi’s detention “in order to question witnesses, request evidence and seek legal counsel after questioning the defendant.”

A separate document showed police filed charges against ousted President Win Myint for violating protocols to stop the spread of coronavirus during campaigning for an election last November.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) won the election in a landslide but the military claimed it was marred by fraud and justified its seizure of power on those grounds.

Reuters was not immediately able to reach the police, the government or the court for comment.

The chair of the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Parliamentarians for Human Rights, Charles Santiago, said the new charges were ludicrous.

“This is an absurd move by the junta to try to legitimize their illegal power grab,” he said in a statement.

The electoral commission had said the vote was fair.

Suu Kyi spent about 15 years under house arrest between 1989 and 2010 as she led the country’s democracy movement, and she remains hugely popular at home despite damage to her international reputation over the plight of Muslim Rohingya refugees in 2017.

The NLD made no immediate comment. A party official said on Tuesday he had learned she was under house arrest in the capital, Naypyidaw, and was in good health.

PARTY SAYS OFFICES RAIDED

The party said earlier in a statement that its offices had been raided in several regions and it urged authorities to stop what it called unlawful acts after its election victory.

Opposition to the junta headed by Army chief General Min Aung Hlaing has begun to emerge in Myanmar.

Staff at scores of government hospitals across the country of 54 million people stopped work or wore red ribbons as part of a civil disobedience campaign.

The newly formed Myanmar Civil Disobedience Movement said doctors at 70 hospitals and medical departments in 30 towns had joined the protest. It accused the army of putting its interests above a coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 3,100 people in Myanmar, one of the highest tolls in Southeast Asia.

“We really cannot accept this,” said 49-year-old Myo Myo Mon, who was among the doctors who stopped work to protest.

“We will do this in a sustainable way, we will do it in a non-violent way…This is the route our state counselor desires,” she said, referring to Suu Kyi by her title.

The latest coup is a massive blow to hopes that Myanmar is on a path to stable democracy. The junta has declared a one-year state of emergency and has promised to hold fair elections, but has not said when.

G7 CONDEMNS COUP

The Group of Seven largest developed economies condemned the coup on Wednesday and said the election result must be respected.

“We call upon the military to immediately end the state of emergency, restore power to the democratically-elected government, to release all those unjustly detained and to respect human rights and the rule of law,” the G7 said in a statement.

China has not specifically condemned the coup in its neighbor but the foreign ministry rejected the suggestion that it supported or gave tacit consent to it.

“We wish that all sides in Myanmar can appropriately resolve their differences and uphold political and social stability,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a briefing.

At the United Nations on Tuesday, its special envoy for Myanmar, Christine Schraner Burgener, urged the Security Council to “collectively send a clear signal in support of democracy in Myanmar”.

But a diplomat with China’s U.N. mission said it would be difficult to reach consensus on the draft statement and that any action should avoid escalating tension or complicating the situation.

U.S. President Joe Biden has threatened to reimpose sanctions on the generals who seized power.

U.S. Army General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tried but was unable to connect to Myanmar’s military following the coup.

The military had ruled the former British colony from 1962 until Suu Kyi’s party came to power in 2015 under a constitution that guarantees the generals a major role in government.

Her international standing as a human rights champion was badly damaged over the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims in 2017 and her defense of the military against accusations of genocide.

(Reporting by Reuters staff; Writing by Matthew Tostevin, Grant McCool and Stephen Coates; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Robert Birsel and Angus MacSwan)

Suu Kyi’s party demands her release as Myanmar generals tighten grip

(Reuters) – The party of Myanmar’s detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi called on Tuesday for her immediate release and for the military junta that seized power a day earlier to recognize her victory in an election in November.

The Nobel Peace laureate’s whereabouts remained unknown more than 24 hours after her arrest in a military takeover that derailed Myanmar’s tentative progress towards full democracy.

A senior official from her National League for Democracy (NLD) said on Tuesday he had learned she was in good health and was not being moved from the location where she was being held after the coup against her government.

She was picked up in the capital Naypyidaw on Monday along with dozens of other allies but her exact whereabouts have not been made public.

“There is no plan to move Daw Aung San Su Kyi and Doctor Myo Aung. It’s learned that they are in good health,” NLD official Kyi Toe said in a Facebook post which also referred to one of her allies. An earlier post said she was at her home.

Kyi Toe also said NLD members of parliament detained during the coup were being allowed to leave the quarters where they had been held. Reuters was unable to contact him for more information.

The U.N. Security Council was due to meet later on Tuesday amid calls for a strong global response to the military’s latest seizure of power in a country blighted for decades by army rule.

The United States threatened to reimpose sanctions on the generals who seized power.

The coup followed a landslide win for Suu Kyi’s NLD in an election on Nov. 8, a result the military has refused to accept citing unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.

The army handed power to its commander, General Min Aung Hlaing, and imposed a state of emergency for a year.

Min Aung Hlaing told the first meeting of his new government on Tuesday that it was inevitable the army would have to take power after its protests over alleged election fraud last year.

“Despite the Tatmadaw’s (army) repeated requests, this path was chosen inevitably for the country. Until the next government is formed after the upcoming election, we need to steer the country,” Min Aung Hlaing was quoted as saying by army information service.

The election and fighting COVID-19 were the junta’s priorities, he said. He had earlier promised a free and fair election and a handover of power to the winner, but without giving a timeframe.

The electoral commission has dismissed the fraud claims.

The NLD’s executive committee demanded the release of all detainees “as soon as possible.”

In a post on the Facebook page of senior party official May Win Myint, the committee also called for the military to acknowledge the election results and for the new parliament to be allowed to sit. It had been due to meet on Monday for the first time since the election.

Various activist groups on Tuesday issued a flurry of messages on social media urging civil disobedience.

Suu Kyi, 75, endured about 15 years of house arrest between 1989 and 2010 as she led a democracy movement against the military, which had seized power in a 1962 coup and stamped out all dissent until her party came to power in 2015.

Her international standing as a human rights icon was badly damaged after she failed to stop the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Rohingya Muslims in 2017 and defended the military against accusations of genocide. But she remains hugely popular at home and is revered as the daughter of Myanmar’s independence hero, Aung San.

INTERNATIONAL CONDEMNATION

U.S. President Joe Biden called the crisis a direct assault on Myanmar’s transition to democracy.

“We will work with our partners throughout the region and the world to support the restoration of democracy and the rule of law, as well as to hold accountable those responsible for overturning Burma’s democratic transition,” Biden said in a statement.

The United Nations also condemned the coup and called for the release of detainees, in comments echoed by Australia, the European Union, India and Japan as well as former colonial ruler Britain.

China did not join the condemnation, saying only that it noted the events and called on all sides to respect the constitution.

The streets of Myanmar were quiet, as they have been for weeks because of the coronavirus. Troops and riot police took up positions in Naypyitaw and the main commercial center Yangon.

By Tuesday morning, phone and internet connections were restored and banks in Yangon reopened after halting services on Monday due to poor internet connections and amid a rush to withdraw cash.

But Myanmar’s international airport in Yangon will stay closed until April or even May, its manager, Phone Myint, told Reuters. He did not say why.

“IMMEDIATE RESPONSE”

One of the first calls for specific action to oppose the coup came from the Yangon Youth Network, one of Myanmar’s biggest activist groups.

Any street protests will raise alarm in a country with a grim record of military crackdowns.

China’s state Xinhua news agency quoted a military official as saying most regional and state leaders who were detained during the takeover were released on Tuesday.

The chief minister of the Sagaing region, Myint Naing, told the BBC after his release that he had been treated well.

“I worry for the future of the nation. We hoped for the best but the worst is happening,” he said.

The coup marks the second time the military has refused to recognize a landslide election win for the NLD, having also rejected the result of 1990 polls that were meant to pave the way for multi-party government.

Following mass protests led by Buddhist monks in 2007, the generals set a course for compromise, while never relinquishing ultimate control.

The NLD came to power after the 2015 election under a constitution that guarantees the military a major role in government, including several main ministries, and an effective veto on constitutional reform.

Consolidating its position, the new junta on Monday removed 24 ministers and named 11 replacements for various portfolios including finance, defense, foreign affairs and interior.

(Reporting by Reuters staff; Writing by Stephen Coates, Robert Birsel; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Coup prompts outcry from Myanmar as West ponders how to respond

(Reuters) – Western leaders condemned the coup by Myanmar’s military against Aung San Suu Kyi’s democratically elected government and hundreds of thousands of her supporters took to the social media to voice their anger at the takeover.

The sudden turn of events in the early hours of Monday derailed years of efforts to establish democracy in the poverty-stricken country and raised more questions over the prospect of returning a million Rohingya refugees.

The U.N. Security Council will meet on Tuesday, diplomats said, amid calls for a strong response to the detention of Suu Kyi and dozens of her political allies, although Myanmar’s close ties with council member China will play into any decision.

U.S. President Joe Biden said the coup was a direct assault on Myanmar’s transition to democracy and the rule of law.

The army handed power to military chief General Min Aung Hlaing and imposed a state of emergency for a year in the country, saying it had responded to what it called election fraud.

Min Aung Hlaing, who had been nearing retirement, promised a free and fair election and a handover of power to the winning party, without giving a timeframe.

Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) party, which won a landslide 83% in a Nov. 8 election, said that she called on people to protest against the military takeover, quoting comments it said were written earlier in anticipation of a coup.

But the streets were quiet overnight after troops and riot police took up positions in the capital, Naypyitaw, and the main commercial center Yangon. Phone and internet connections were disrupted.

Many in Myanmar voiced their anger on social media.

Data on Facebook showed more than 325,000 people had used the #SaveMyanmar hashtag denoting opposition to the coup, and some people changed profile pictures to black to show their sorrow or red in support of the NLD, often with a portrait of the 75-year-old Suu Kyi, the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner.

“We as a citizen of Myanmar not agree with the current move and would like to request the world leaders. UN and the world medias help our country – our leaders- our people – from this bitter acts,” said one widely reposted message.

Four youth groups condemned the coup and pledged to “stand with the people” but did not announce specific action.

Suu Kyi, President Win Myint and other NLD leaders were “taken” in the early hours of Monday morning, NLD spokesman Myo Nyunt told Reuters by phone. U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said at least 45 people had been detained.

MINISTERS REMOVED

Consolidating the coup, the junta removed 24 ministers and named 11 replacements to oversee ministries including finance, defense, foreign affairs and interior.

Banks said they would reopen on Tuesday after suspending services on Monday amid a rush to withdraw cash.

Yangon residents had rushed to stock up on supplies while foreign companies from Japanese retail giant Aeon to South Korean trading firm POSCO International and Norway’s Telenor tried to reach staff in Myanmar and assess the turmoil.

Suu Kyi’s election win followed about 15 years of house arrest between 1989 and 2010 and a long struggle against the military, which had seized power in a 1962 coup and stamped out all dissent for decades until her party came to power in 2015.

Her international standing as a human rights icon was severely damaged after she failed to stop the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas in 2017 and defended the military against accusations of genocide. But she remains hugely popular at home and is revered as the daughter of Myanmar’s independence hero, Aung San.

“BROKEN WINGS”

The coup followed days of tension between the civilian government and the military. In the pre-written statement on Facebook, Suu Kyi was quoted as saying that an army takeover would put Myanmar “back under a dictatorship.”

“I urge people not to accept this, to respond and wholeheartedly to protest against the coup by the military,” it said. Reuters was unable to reach any NLD officials to confirm the veracity of the statement.

Supporters of the military celebrated the coup, parading through Yangon in pickup trucks and waving national flags.

“Today is the day that people are happy,” one nationalist monk told a crowd in a video published on social media.

Democracy activists and NLD voters were horrified and angry. Four youth groups condemned the coup in statements and pledged to “stand with the people” but did not announce specific action.

“Our country was a bird that was just learning to fly. Now the army broke our wings,” student activist Si Thu Tun said.

Senior NLD leader Win Htein said in a Facebook post the army chief’s takeover demonstrated his ambition rather than concern for the country.

In the capital, security forces confined members of parliament to residential compounds on the day they had expected to take up their seats, representative Sai Lynn Myat said.

‘POTENTIAL FOR UNREST’

The United Nations led condemnation of the coup and calls for the release of detainees and restoration of democracy in comments largely echoed by Australia, Britain, the European Union, India, Japan and the United States.

In Washington, President Biden called on the international community to press Myanmar’s military to give up power, release detainees and refrain from violence against civilians. Those responsible for the coup would be held accountable, he said.

In Japan, a major aid donor with many businesses in Myanmar, a ruling party source said the government may have to rethink the strengthening of defense relations with the country undergone as part of regional efforts to counterbalance China.

China called on all sides in Myanmar to respect the constitution and uphold stability, but “noted” events in the country rather than expressly condemning them.

Bangladesh, which is sheltering around one million Rohingya who fled violence in Myanmar, called for “peace and stability” and said it hoped a process to repatriate the refugees could move forward. Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh also condemned the takeover.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, of which Myanmar is a member, called for “dialogue, reconciliation and the return to normalcy” while in Bangkok, police clashed with a group of pro-democracy demonstrators outside Myanmar’s embassy.

“It’s their internal affair,” a Thai government official said – a hands-off approach also taken by Malaysia and the Philippines.

The November vote faced some criticism in the West for disenfranchising many Rohingya but the election commission rejected military complaints of fraud.

In its statement declaring the emergency, the military cited the failure of the commission to address complaints over voter lists, its refusal to postpone new parliamentary sessions, and protests by groups unhappy with the vote.

(Reporting by Reuters staff; writing by Matthew Tostevin and Philippa Fletcher; editing by Angus MacSwan)

U.S. expects to identify Belarus sanctions targets in a few days

By Arshad Mohammed and Daphne Psaledakis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States signaled on Friday that it will soon punish individual Belarusians with sanctions for election fraud and a brutal crackdown on protests as Washington urged Russia to tell Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko to step down.

Lukashenko denies rigging the country’s Aug. 9 election, which official results said he won by a landslide. He also has refused to talk to the opposition, accusing them of trying to wreck the former Soviet republic squeezed between NATO and Russia.

Speaking to reporters during a conference call, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Stephen Biegun said Washington is coordinating sanctions with the European Union but made clear neither would wait for the other to impose penalties.

“We are looking at targeted sanctions aimed at the individuals who are most responsible for … the violence as well as the theft of the election,” Biegun said, adding wider sanctions might be considered later but Washington was loath to do anything that would hurt the broader population.

A senior U.S. State Department official told Reuters on Sept. 1 Washington was weighing sanctions on seven Belarusians.

Biegun said Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years and is to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday, is increasingly reliant on Moscow to maintain his rule, saying this could turn Belarusian public opinion against Russia.

“It risks turning the Belarusian people, who have no grievance with Russia, against Moscow,” he said, adding that he hoped the Kremlin would voice concern about the violence against protesters in Belarus and the abductions of opposition figures.

“A free and fair election will allow Belarusian people to select who will be the next president of Belarus,” he said. “Ultimately we hope the message from Moscow to Minsk is that the ruler needs to give way to the will of his people.”

(Reporting By Arshad Mohammed and Daphne Psaledakis; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and David Gregorio)

Venezuela congress declares ‘state of alarm’ over blackout

People collect water released through a sewage drain that feeds into the Guaire River, which carries most of the city's wastewater, in Caracas, Venezuela March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

By Shaylim Valderrama and Anggy Polanco

CARACAS/SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela (Reuters) – Venezuela’s opposition-run congress on Monday declared a “state of alarm” over a five-day power blackout that has crippled the OPEC member country’s oil exports and left millions of citizens scrambling to find food and water.

Much of Venezuela remained without power on Monday, although electricity had largely returned to the capital of Caracas following an outage that began on Thursday and which President Nicolas Maduro has called an act of U.S.-backed sabotage.

The outage has added to discontent in a country already suffering from hyperinflation and a political crisis after opposition leader Juan Guaido assumed the interim presidency in January after declaring Maduro’s 2018 re-election a fraud.

Venezuelan citizens living in Bogota protest against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and the continuing power outage in Venezuela, in Bogota, Colombia, March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Julio Martinez

Venezuelan citizens living in Bogota protest against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro and the continuing power outage in Venezuela, in Bogota, Colombia, March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Julio Martinez

“Nothing is normal in Venezuela, and we will not allow this tragedy to be considered normal, which is why we need this decree of a state of alarm,” said Guaido, who heads the legislature, during the session on Monday.

The constitution allows the president to declare states of alarm amid catastrophes that “seriously compromise the security of the nation,” but does not explicitly say what practical impact such a declaration would have.

Guaido has been recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate leader by the United States and most Western countries, but Maduro retains control of the armed forces and state institutions, and the backing of Russia and China, among others.

Oil industry sources said that exports from the primary port of Jose had been halted for lack of power, cutting off Venezuela’s primary source of revenue.

During the legislative session, Guaido called for a halt in shipments of oil to Maduro’s political ally Cuba, which has received discounted crude from Venezuela for nearly two decades. The deals have drawn scrutiny from the opposition and its allies abroad as Venezuela’s economic crisis worsened.

“We ask for the international community’s cooperation to make this measure effective so that the oil the Venezuelan people urgently need to attend to this national emergency is not given away,” Guaido said.

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton backed the measure, writing on Twitter that, “insurance companies and flag carriers that facilitate these give-away shipments to Cuba are now on notice.” He did not specify any measures the U.S. government may take.

Earlier on Monday, the U.S. Treasury imposed sanctions on a Russian bank over its dealings with Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized Russia’s Rosneft for buying PDVSA oil.

People collect water released through a sewage drain that feeds into the Guaire River, which carries most of the city's wastewater, in Caracas, Venezuela March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

People collect water released through a sewage drain that feeds into the Guaire River, which carries most of the city’s wastewater, in Caracas, Venezuela March 11, 2019. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

RESTORATION ‘COMPLEX’

The blackout has left food rotting in refrigerators, hospitals have struggled to keep equipment operating, and people have clustered on the streets of Caracas to pick up patchy telephone signals to reach relatives abroad.

On Monday, Venezuelans seeking water formed lines to fill containers from a sewage pipe.

“This is driving me crazy,” said Naile Gonzalez in Chacaito, a commercial neighborhood of Caracas. “The government doesn’t want to accept that this is their fault because they haven’t carried out any maintenance in years.”

Venezuela’s electrical grid has suffered from years of underinvestment. Restrictions on imports have affected the provision of spare parts, while many skilled technical personnel have fled the country amid an exodus of more than 3 million Venezuelans in recent years.

Winston Cabas, the president of an electrical engineers’ professional association, told reporters that several of the country’s thermoelectric plants were operating at just 20 percent of capacity, in part due to lack of fuel. He said the government was rationing electricity.

The process of restoring service was “complex” and could take between five and six days, he said.

“We once had the best electricity system in the world – the most vigorous, the most robust, the most powerful – and those who now administer the system have destroyed it,” he said.

A source at PDVSA also said the government had decided to ration electricity, in part to supply power to the Jose oil export terminal.

The Information Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

Experts consulted by Reuters believe the nationwide blackout originated in transmission lines that transport energy from the Guri hydroelectric plant to the Venezuelan south.

The lack of electricity has aggravated a crisis in Venezuelan hospitals, already lacking investment and maintenance in addition to a shortage of medicines.

School and work activities are set to be suspended on Tuesday, the third working day in a row.

(Reporting by Shaylim Valderrama, Vivian Sequera, Anggy Polanco, and Deisy Buitrago; additional reporting by Sarah Marsh in Havana; writing by Daniel Flynn, Brian Ellsworth and Luc Cohen; editing by Grant McCool and Rosalba O’Brien)

Haiti awaits results of re-run vote, shattered by hurricane

Electoral workers are seen during vote counting at a polling station as Haiti holds a long-delayed presidential election after a devastating hurricane and more than a year of political instability, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti,

By Joseph Guyler Delva

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Haiti waited overnight for the results of a re-run presidential election held on Sunday in the impoverished Caribbean country, which has been in political limbo for over a year and is still reeling from a devastating hurricane.

Early reports suggested that Jovenel Moise, backed by Haiti’s last president Michel Martelly, had taken a lead in early voting tallies. However, the party of another former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, said its nominee, Maryse Narcisse, was headed for victory.

Electoral authorities said they do not expect to have preliminary results until Monday.

The vote was first held in October 2015, but then annulled over complaints of fraud in the first round after Moise, the candidate of Martelly’s Bald Heads Party, finished ahead of Jude Celestin, the former boss of a state construction company.

Further disputes ensued and a rescheduled vote due last month was postponed when Hurricane Matthew struck, killing up to 1,000 people and leaving 1.4 million needing aid.

Voters in the poorest country in the western hemisphere hope the next president will boost the economy and repair the damage.

“We need aid, aid for the country,” said Clauzette Fortine, a 41-year-old voter in Port-a-Piment, a town in southwestern Haiti pummeled by Matthew last month. “Aid after the hurricane, because everything was lost,” she added.

Men wait in line for roofing material during the eviction of residents from a shelter for people displaced by Hurricane Matthew in Lycee Jean Claude Museau, which will be used as a voting centre, before the election in Les Cayes, Haiti,

Men wait in line for roofing material during the eviction of residents from a shelter for people displaced by Hurricane Matthew in Lycee Jean Claude Museau, which will be used as a voting centre, before the election in Les Cayes, Haiti, November 19, 2016. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares

Moise, an entrepreneur who was tipped to prevail by one recent opinion poll, was leading the count according to some radio stations broadcasting from polling stations. Calvin Cadet, a former director of the communications ministry under Martelly, said Moise was on track to win 64 percent of the vote.

However, Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party said the vote had given a majority to Narcisse, a doctor.

And Celestin, who placed second in last year’s vote, is also in the running, as is former senator Moise Jean-Charles. All told, more than two dozen candidates are competing.

Martelly left office in February, and since then Haiti has been in the hands of a caretaker government. To win outright in the first round, the top candidate must secure more than 50 percent of the vote or a lead of at least 25 percentage points.

Failing that, a Jan. 29 second round run-off is likely for the top two finishers. The victor is due to take office in February, and faces a formidable task rebuilding the country after Matthew.

The deadly storm battered homes, farms and schools across southern Haiti, piling fresh misery onto the nation of more than 10 million people on the western half of the island of Hispaniola that is still recovering from a major earthquake in 2010.

There were a number of reports of voting fraud on Sunday, although election observers made a broadly positive assessment, suggesting it had gone more smoothly than last year.

Some Haitians complained they could not cast a ballot because their names did not appear on lists at the polling stations, while others said that when they tried, they were told somebody had already voted for them.

Electoral council president Leopold Berlanger said the vote had been a success overall. Still, he also noted there had been several arrests and an attempt made to burn a polling station in southeastern Haiti. National police said 43 people had been arrested for interference in the election.

(Additional reporting by Makini Brice in Les Cayes; Editing by Dave Graham and Christian Schmollinger)