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Haitian Officer’s U.S. Drug Charge Viewed as Problem

Associated Press

The United States anticipates difficulty in dealing with the new government of Haiti if its army is to be headed by a colonel facing a drug indictment in Florida, the White House said today.

Frantz Lubin, Haiti’s director of information, said in Port-au-Prince over the weekend that Jean-Claude Paul, commander of the Dessalines barracks, was assuming command of the army. However, Gen. Prosper Avril, in announcing Sunday that he is assuming the presidency, did not mention Paul.

Paul has been indicted by a federal grand jury in Florida on drug trafficking charges.

White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater said today that Paul’s appointment “would be a telling symbol about the intentions of the new president.”

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“On the surface, it would be difficult to detect much difference” in the Haitian government as a result of the weekend coup that ousted President Henri Namphy, Fitzwater said.

“I guess the thing we are looking for at the moment is who does he (Avril) appoint to various key positions in the government, and that will give us an indication of how he plans to proceed,” Fitzwater said.

Appointing Paul, he said, “would certainly give us an indication of the difficulties we will have with this government if he is appointed.”

Official Haitian radio stations said seven people died Sunday in the aftermath of the coup. State Department spokeswoman Anita Stockman said there were no reports of Americans being injured.

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