Chaos, threats grow in Haiti Aristide assails police, military

September 17, 1993|By Cox News Service

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Haiti appeared to be disintegrating into chaos yesterday, with threats of violence and political assassination so widespread that exiled President Jean-Bertrand Aristide said the new civilian government is in danger of being toppled.

"The leaders of the armed forces of Haiti and the police have succeeded in orchestrating another coup d'etat," said Father Aristide, who was ousted in 1991 by a military-backed coup. "The entire apparatus of government is threatened."

In a statement released in Washington, Father Aristide accused the Haitian armed forces chief, Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras, and the military police chief, Michel Francois, of "officially sanctioned violence" whose aim is "not only the murder of proponents of democracy, but . . . the total disruption of government."

Meanwhile in the Haitian capital, newly installed civilian Prime Minister Robert Malval acknowledged that several of his Cabinet ministers are afraid to sleep in their own homes because they fear assassination. Three top civilian officials will not enter their government offices because they fear being attacked, he said.

Mr. Malval himself is surrounded by an armed guard and has been working out of his suburban Port-au-Prince home since being sworn in Aug. 30.

On Wednesday, a group of about 50 unidentified men, wielding weapons and batons, burst into Haiti's Finance Ministry and reportedly threatened staff members for more than two hours.

In the past week alone, at least seven Haitians, including prominent businessman and Aristide supporter, Antione Izmery, have been killed.Much of the violence is being blamed on armed police auxiliaries, or "attaches," who oppose a United Nations-brokered peace plan that calls for the restoration of democracy and returning Father Aristide to power by Oct. 30.

Father Aristide said the attaches have circulated a "death list" that includes names of his supporters.

Mr. Izmery's house was sacked Tuesday, and bands of armed attaches have roamed the city with impunity, opening fire on crowds, seemingly at random.

Wilson Ciceron, a special prosecutor named to investigate army-linked thugs, handed Mr. Malval his resignation on Monday because he feared his life was in danger, Mr. Malval's spokesman said.

The Rev. Antoine Adrien, Father Aristide's mentor, has left his home to stay in what an acquaintance called a "safe place" and won't re-emerge until the day of Mr. Izmery's funeral, which relatives say may be held this weekend.

Mr. Malval, who acknowledged to reporters Wednesday night that he is not in full control of the Haitian government, said anti-Aristide forces still control Haiti's state television network and the national radio station. The Malval government has told them to leave, but they have refused.

Human rights groups, fearing that the escalating violence could make it dangerous for Father Aristide to return, are urging the Clinton administration to pressure the Haitian army to purge "mass murderers" from its ranks.

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