Soldiers loyal to a former top aide to ousted dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier surrendered Monday, several hours after trying to overthrow the Haitian government, Radio Metropole said.
Roger Lafontant - who had seized the National Palace, declared himself Haiti's new leader and apparently took President Ertha Pascal-Trouillot hostage early Monday - was led away in handcuffs.Afterward, Pascal-Trouillot appeared on a balcony of the palace and waved to the cheering crowds below.
The reported capture of Lafontant came shortly after the nation's military had said it would move to end the attempted coup by the reputed head of the dread
ed Tonton Macoute militia that had enforced the Duvalier regime.
It was not known whether there was any bloodshed during Lafontant's move against the government or the military's reported arrest of him.
Lafontant, backed by an undetermined number of soldiers, had declared he was the new president after a burst of heavy gunfire at the palace early Monday.
The whereabouts of President-elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide during all the turmoil was not known, but he was reported safe.
Aristide, a leftist Roman Catholic priest elected by a landslide last month in the country's first free nationwide vote, is scheduled to take office Feb. 7, the fifth anniversary of Duvalier's fall in a popular uprising.
Haitians enraged by the threat to what was to have been their country's first peaceful transition to democracy had taken to the streets in protest.
Reports that Pascal-Trouillot had been held hostage by Lafontant came from the army and the U.S. State Department.
Pascal-Trouillot went on the radio at 12:40 a.m. EST Monday and announced her resignation as caretaker president on the radio. A moment later, Lafontant went on the air and declared himself provisional president.
Before last month's election, Lafontant had vowed "to do everything" short of violence to prevent Aristide from assuming the presidency.
In Washington, State Department spokesman David Denny said: "We emphatically condemn this assault on President Trouillot and this attempt to overthrow the constitutional government of Haiti. We will provide no support to nor conduct normal relations with any government of Haiti that comes to power by unconstitutional means."
Lafontant appeared on state-run television shortly after the radio announcement and said he had acted "in association with the armed forces."
But the Army High Command denounced the takeover and said it was taking unspecified steps to restore the caretaker civilian government.
"We condemn in the strongest terms this terrorist act, which was committed by a small group in the hire of Lafontant," the high command said in a statement broadcast Monday morning on Radio Lumiere, a Protestant-run station."The army has taken all steps to return the situation to normal with a minimum of damage as soon as possible. . . . The army will fulfill its mission and help the countryon the road to democracy," it said.
There was no sign of unusual military activity in the capital early Monday, however. Before dawn, protesters shouting "Long live Aristide, down with Lafontant" took to the streets in some sections of Port-au-Prince, the capital of 1 million people, and erected flaming barricades.
In his television statement, Lafontant said he was outraged by the election, which he called a "masquerade" and a "scathing insult." The independent Electoral Council had barred Lafontant from the presidential race.
The Caribbean nation has had five governments in the tumultous years since Duvalier fled into exile, and a November 1987 attempt at free elections was thwarted when thugs aided by soldiers shot or hacked to death at least 34 voters. Former Tonton Macoutes were believed involved.
After the massacre, the United States suspended all but humanitarian aid to Haiti pending the installation of a democratic government.
Pascal-Trouillot's resignation announcement came about 2 1/2 hours after heavy gunfire broke out at the National Palace. The shooting lasted five to 10 minutes. It was not known whether there was any attempt by loyalist troops to resist the takeover.
Aristide, who has survived several assassination attempts, is a self-proclaimed champion of Haiti's impoverished majority. The 37-year-old priest won two-thirds of the vote in the Dec. 16 election.
The impoverished nation of 6 million people has been ruled almost exclusively by tyrants since gaining independence from France in 1804.