Lt. Gen. Prosper Avril went on national television early Monday to announce that forces loyal to his government had thwarted a coup attempt led by power-hungry soldiers.
There were indications that the attempt to overthrow Avril may have been related to his vow to crack down on officers involved in drug smuggling.The international airport remained closed early Monday and soldiers patrolled Port-au-Prince streets, now quiet, that had echoed with gunfire 24 hours earlier.
Avril, who assumed power in coup six months ago, was reportedly seized at his suburban home early Sunday and rescued by loyal soldiers as he was being driven to the airport to be deported.
"Some members of the armed forces, blinded by their exorbitant ambitions, attempted to overthrow the government," Avril said in a 10-minute speech on state-run television.
"I appeal to the nation to cooperate with us in peace and unity for the realization of our democratic objectives," he added.
Avril gave no details of the attempted coup, but said, "I have faith in the army." There were no reports of casualties.
He was flanked by a dozen soldiers, including Sgt. Major Joseph Heubreux, who led the September revolt by noncommissioned officers that put Avril in power after ousting a regime blamed for widespread human rights abuses.
Loyalists in tanks thwarted Sunday's coup attempt by rescuing a handcuffed Avril as he was being driven by rebel officers to the airport to be flown out of Haiti, according to presidential guardsmen and a U.S. Embassy official.
Four days before the coup attempt, Avril fired four senior army officers for alleged drug trafficking.