Supporters of mutinous soldiers agreed Wednesday to meet with Haiti's new leader, who is trying to stop an insurrection in the armed forces that began after a coup placed him in power.
The meeting was announced after soldiers ousted four more commanders in the military, workers struck state-run companies and street battles occurred as Haitians released pent-up rage at three decades of authoritarian rule.Sporadic gunfire continued throughout the capital Wednesday, four days after low-ranking soldiers toppled the regime of Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy.
But it was quiet downtown Wednesday morning, and a demonstration scheduled in support of the rebellious soldiers was rescheduled for Thursday after its organizers announced they would meet later Wednesday with the leader of the revolt, Sgt. Joseph Heubreux and the new president, Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril.
The decision was praised by a political leader, Christian Democrat Sylvio Claude, who was quoted on Radio Lumier as saying, "The emotions of the people are overheated. This is not the moment for a demonstration."
Radio reports told Tuesday of a spreading rebellion, with troops removing their commanders and reprisal killings by mobs supported by soldiers.
"I'm afraid we're on the eve of another insurrection," a government official, who demanded anonymity, said Tuesday.
Avril, who declared himself president Sunday after the coup, tried to end the unrest by appointing a new armed forces chief and announcing the retirement of eight generals. But radio stations said the revolt in the 7,000-member army spread because Avril had not fired commanders the soldiers identified with the corruption and repression of earlier governments.
Soldiers broadcasting from radio stations - something unheard of before the coup - said they identified themselves with the downtrodden of Haiti. Several repeated on the air: "The army is the people, and people are the army!"
The coup leaders have demanded that Avril reorganize the military and institute democratic reforms including free elections, which Haiti has not had for 31 years. On Nov. 29, armed thugs killed more than 30 people at polling stations in thwarting independently run elections.
Radio stations said Tuesday that mutinous soldiers had ousted the commanders of the navy, port and airport security, the 300-man Leopards Batallion, and the Artibonite Department, a region north of Port-au-Prince.
Workers at the state-owned electricity company, port authority and flour mill struck to force the removal of their managers, radio stations said.
Workers looted and tore apart the house of Jean-Claude Souriac, head of the electric company, while two armed soldiers stood by, witnesses said.
The flour mill manager also was removed, radio stations said. The managers' fates were not known.