WASHINGTON — The White House today commended the new provisional government in Haiti for making "a good start" toward restoring order and human rights and said the Reagan Administration is watching the new regime's actions "with keen interest."
Presidential spokesman Larry Speakes said the new civilian-military rulers have taken steps to establish their authority and restore order in the wake of Jean-Claude Duvalier's flight from power, which touched off two days of celebration, rioting and revenge in which as many as 300 people were killed.
"The new government has moved to disarm and subordinate the paramilitary volunteers for national security--the Tontons Macoutes--to the armed forces," Speakes said. "We understand this force will eventually be disbanded."
The Tontons Macoutes were Duvalier's secret police and the enforcers of his authoritarian rule.
"We are pleased to note that the new government's first declaration was full respect for human rights," Speakes said, expressing satisfaction with the release of political prisoners and the reopening of independent radio stations that Duvalier had closed down.
"Recognizing the unsettled state of affairs in Haiti at present, we are looking to the actions of the new government with keen interest," the spokesman said.