Haitian envoy denounces Cedras, seeks resignation

June 15, 1994|By New York Times News Service

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- In a sign of a growing rift between Haiti's top military leaders, the brother of the country's police chief hinted yesterday that the chief was willing to step down and called on the army leader to resign as well to prevent an invasion by the United States.

In a radio interview, Evans Francois, a Haitian diplomat who is the brother of the widely feared police chief, Col. Joseph Michel Francois, said that his brother was "willing to make the necessary concessions."

Mr. Francois also called on Haiti's army to honor the Governors Island accord, signed last July in New York. The agreement called for Colonel Francois and the army chief, Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras, to resign and allow the Rev. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the ousted president, to return.

In a telephone interview from the Dominican Republic broadcast here by Radio Metropole, an independent Haitian station, Mr. Francois denounced General Cedras as a "scam artist" who had put Haiti in jeopardy.

"General, the threats of military intervention are serious," Mr. Francois said. "The time to leave is now. I am sure that Haiti, the military officers in charge of security, would applaud your patriotic act of leaving."

There was no immediate response from General Cedras or other military leaders.

Western diplomats and Haitians familiar with the military say that General Cedras has been feuding for months with Colonel Francois, an army officer informally known as the capital's police chief. Haiti's police and army are unified.

The tensions between the two officers have only increased, the sources added, since the United States began talking of possible U.S. military intervention to drive the military from power.

"We think it's reflective of the increasingly isolated position of Cedras and his allies," said Stanley Schrager, a U.S. Embassy spokesman, of Mr. Francois' statement.

In Washington, administration officials reacted skeptically to the remarks.

One official said that he would find it more significant that Colonel Francois was offering to resign if the offer could be confirmed.

Colonel Francois is believed to be the main figure behind the militias that have been terrorizing opponents of the military leadership in Haiti.

"There have been lots of people who have said this leader or that one might be ready to step down," one Clinton administration official said. "What we haven't seen are actual actions. One has to treat all this with a certain amount of skepticism."

A Haitian political scientist familiar with the workings of the military said that the comments might also be a ploy to persuade the Clinton administration that the Haitian military was so divided that it would "self-destruct" and intervention would not be necessary.

Mr. Francois, a member of the Haitian diplomatic mission in the Dominican Republic, was a member of General Cedras' team of advisers when the army leader signed the Governors Island accord.

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