YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Haiti's Leader Promises Elections, Real Democracy

February 10, 1986|Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The leader of the new interim government today promised elections, a new constitution and "a real and working democracy" to replace the repressive regime of ousted President Jean-Claude Duvalier.

Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, army chief of staff and president of the interim six-member governing council, made the promises at swearing-in ceremonies for a new Cabinet at the national palace.

He did not specify dates for the elections or for instituting what he said would be a new "liberal" constitution.

Calm returned to Haiti's capital after days of looting and violence that left as many as 300 dead following Duvalier's flight Friday to France. Frequent rifle and submachine gun fire, however, were heard through the night.

The Roman Catholic National Council of Bishops and the Protestant National Council of Evangelical Churches appealed on television Sunday for calm in the nation, the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.

Many of those killed over the weekend were members of the dreaded Tontons Macoutes, the private army used by Duvalier to maintain control of the impoverished, increasingly restless population.

On Sunday, Namphy announced the Tontons Macoutes had been dissolved. In his speech today, he asked citizens to stop attacks on its members. He also called for "a fair division of the national wealth."

The governing council has ordered citizens to turn in all their firearms to police stations to help preserve public order.

Meanwhile, a chartered Air Canada jetliner left Port-au-Prince this morning with 428 people, including up to 30 Americans and Europeans, who had been stranded in Haiti, the airline said.

The capital's international airport has been closed to regular flights, although some charters have been allowed to land. Most of the passengers today were Canadians, and most were tourists.

Canadian officials who announced plans for the special flight last week said it was not considered an evacuation but was intended to assist Canadians inconvenienced by the airport's closure. The chartered Boeing 747 was flying to Montreal and Toronto.

Los Angeles Times Articles