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New Haitian government may be `more military' than before

As the purely military character of the new government in Haiti becomes clear, pessimism is deepening in Washington and Haiti. ``This is much more of a military government than the CNG'' (the two-year transitional government that followed the Duvalier dictatorship), says a Haitian who correctly predicted the coup. ``How are they going to govern the country? There is hardly a centime in the coffers and [the United States] Congress will be worse than ever.... I fear we're going to be having some horrible days.''

Col. Jean-Claude Paul, the powerful commander of Haiti's Dessalines Battalion, has apparently made peace with the new military government. Colonel Paul was temporarily aligned with deposed President Leslie Manigat against coup leader, Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy. Paul's reconciliation dashed hopes in Washington that General Namphy would remove or isolate him. The US had been pressing for action against Paul, who has been indicted in Miami for drug trafficking.

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Late Monday the State Department issued a strong condemnation of Sunday's coup as a ``serious blow to democracy.'' The statement promised that the administration would work with Congress and other countries to press for respect of human rights, economic progress, control of drug trafficking, and a credible transition to democracy.

Walter Fauntroy (D), congressional delegate of the District of Columbia and activist on Haiti, also issued a statement that warned now-President Namphy not to try to follow the path of Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega in Panama. Mr. Fauntroy called on Namphy to follow the provisions of the Haitian constitution and hold free elections in 45 to 90 days.

Congressional and administration sources are watching for signs of a crackdown on opponents of the military. Several Manigat supporters have reportedly been arrested already, and congressional aides are worried that the military may go after members of the civilian opposition.

The US is consulting with its allies and reportedly considering a number of multilateral options with other key aid donors such as France and Canada to press the new government toward a democratic path or to react if it veers further away.

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