Haiti: With Friends Like These

A host of shadowy figures is helping Haiti's military rulers hatch a plot to sideline Aristide permanently

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The more serious scheme to install an interim President hinges on the not unreasonable assumption that Clinton may at some point have to cut a deal with the military, declare a victory and retreat home to resume training his laser on domestic issues. It also requires continued accord within Haiti's reigning troika. Biamby and Cedras have been close friends since the early 1970s when they both attended Haiti's military academy. They show no inclination to part ways.

As for Cedras and Francois, the signals are mixed. "Their fates are completely linked," insists Francois's sister Elsie. "They're together all the time. Their wives are very close. They go to church together. They play volleyball together, and they're in this together to the end."

Perhaps. But Francois has been known to call Cedras cocopol (chicken s) behind his back. And a military source in Haiti reports that Francois is . miffed that the recent assassination of Justice Minister Guy Malary was handled by the army but carried out by Francois's men -- without his prior knowledge. Some Haitians see in this an army attempt to reduce Francois's power. A military officer who watches Francois closely says Haiti's top cop has woven his own power structure and manages it with considerable skill. Whether in league with Cedras or not, Francois plainly intends to stay at the helm. "The military controls Haiti," he asserted recently, "and it always will." As yet, there is little reason to believe that will change anytime soon.

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