Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy Monday declared himself president of Haiti after troops stormed the national palace and deposed civilian President Leslie Manigat.
"The future of democracy and liberty was at stake. The army must protect the superior interests of the country and must head the country," Namphy said in a speech broadcast late Monday morning on national television from the presidential palace."To this end, a military government has been formed with, as president, Gen. Henri Namphy," he said.
The coup ended four months of civilian government and put Namphy back in command of the nation he led for two years as head of a three-man junta. It came less than a week after a Manigat fired Namphy and tried to reorganize the military.
Namphy was surrounded by military leaders, including Lt. Gen. Jean-Claude Paul, who was the chief military ally of Manigat. The fate of Manigat, who was seized at his residence five miles away, was not known.
"The president betrayed your confidence and violated the constitution he swore to observe," Namphy said. "He took a path that led irrevocably to the most brutal form of dictatorship. To this end, he attacked the army and shook its high command to make it a docile instrument of personal power. He thus imperiled the conquest of Feb. 7."
Manigat was inaugurated president Feb. 7. The three-man junta, led by Namphy, stepped down after Manigat took office.
Manigat retired Namphy as commander in chief of Haiti's 7,000-man army on Friday, charging him with insubordination in ordering the transfer of Paul - to an administrative post - and other high-ranking officers three days earlier.
Namphy first appeared on state-run television at about 1:30 a.m. in a broadcast from the palace shortly after the coup.
"The army will lead the country this way," he declared, waving an Uzi submachine gun and flanked by soldiers.
A man at Manigat's residence was on the telephone with the Miami News when soldiers moved in. Jean Lescouflair identified himself as director of the regional Information Ministry and a former Miami teacher. He said Manigat was upstairs with government ministers discussing how to respond to Namphy's statement when soldiers arrived at about 3:08 a.m.
"I am hearing some noise coming like a machine gun," he said.
At 3:20 a.m. Lescouflair told the Miami News he could hear a security guard shouting, "Ne tirez pas! On sort!" (`Don't shoot! We're coming out!").
A few minutes later, someone was heard yelling "Hands up!" in French, the newspaper said. The last words from Lescouflair were, "Call my wife. Goodbye."