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U.S. Says New Regime Is 'Off to a Good Start'

February 11, 1986|NORMAN KEMPSTER | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — The Reagan Administration said Monday that Haiti's new government is "off to a good start" on a program that eventually could lead to democratic elections in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

State Department spokesman Charles Redman reported that the embassy in Port-au-Prince is already talking with the military-civilian ruling council about conditions for a resumption of U.S. economic aid.

"We believe that the government is off to a good start. But they have been in power for only 72 hours," Redman noted Monday. "We do expect further announcements of key initiatives to be made in the near future. We expect that the Council of National Government will govern on an interim basis only, and the Haitian people will soon have an opportunity to select their own leaders through democratic procedures."

U.S. officials said last Friday, shortly after Jean-Claude Duvalier left the country, that the American Embassy had advised military and civilian leaders on how to establish a government that could win the support of the Haitian public and the international community.

'Respect for Human Rights'

White House press spokesman Larry Speakes said Monday: "We're pleased to note that the new government's first declaration is a promise for full respect of human rights. We hope that it will soon take further actions to uphold human rights and move toward democratic government that will permit us to lend our support."

The State Department has received no reports of injuries to Americans in the unrest that followed Friday's coup, Redman said. Nevertheless, he added, the department continues to advise Americans to avoid travel to Haiti.

"In general, the new government has moved energetically to restore order, and a curfew has taken hold," Redman said.

He praised the council for releasing political prisoners and for ordering the army to disarm Duvalier's militia, the Tontons Macoutes. He also congratulated the government for allowing the resumption of independent and church-affiliated radio broadcasts and for permitting journalists to operate freely, including during the curfew hours.

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