PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — Rebels occupied the national
police headquarters but kept away from the U.S.-guarded
presidential palace after their convoy entered the capital
yesterday to the cheers of thousands celebrating the ouster of
President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Beth Dykstra
A woman holds her hands up as police do a random check for weapons on the streets of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (CAROLYN COLE/AP)

Dozens of insurgents, packing an eclectic array of weapons
dating to World War II, swaggered around a posh hotel where rebel
leader Guy Philippe met with members of the political coalition
that opposed Aristide.

He was joined by rebel commander Louis-Jodel Chamblain, who is a
former army death squad leader and a convicted assassin.

With U.S. military forces on the ground and more on the way,
Aristide claimed they forced him to leave Haiti, according to a
telephone interview with the exiled president after he was flown
aboard a contracted U.S.-government plane to the impoverished
Central African Republic.

“Agents were telling me that if I don’t leave they
would start shooting and killing in a matter of time,”
Aristide said.

U.S. officials called the allegation — repeated earlier by
other U.S. critics who said they were called by Aristide —
“absurd.” President Bush’s spokesman, Scott
McClellan, said, “It’s nonsense, and conspiracy
theories like that do nothing to help the Haitian people realize
the future that they aspire to.”

Philippe said he planned to make preparations for the new
president, former Supreme Court Chief Justice Boniface Alexandre,
to assume office, as called for in the constitution.

“We’re just going to make sure the palace is clean
for the president to come … that there is no threat there,”
he said as his convoy of 70 rebels approached the capital.

But a half dozen U.S. Marines guarded the National Palace at the
Champs de Mars plaza, and the rebels did not approach.

Philippe has said that he has no political aspirations but wants
to reinstitute the Haitian army that ousted Aristide in 1991 and
that Aristide disbanded in 1995.

In the capital, there were reports of reprisal killings of
militant Aristide supporters accused of terrorizing people. An AP
reporter saw four bodies at Carrefour, on the outskirts of the
capital, three of them with hands tied behind their backs and shot
in the head execution-style.

The fourth body was that of a man allegedly shot by police, said
witness Charlie LaPlanche.

“He ran out of the (police) pickup truck and then it
became a manhunt. He went into a house. They found him. And then
they took him out and executed him,” he said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell said U.S. forces “will
have a lead role” initially in restoring order in Haiti
following the three-week rebellion that swept Aristide from

The U.N. Security Council late Sunday approved the deployment of
a multinational force to Haiti.

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