Ex-Haiti Police Chief Feared for Life
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Haiti’s former police chief said Friday he fled the country with his family because he feared for his life. He asserted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was filling police ranks only with people loyal to him regardless of their qualifications.
Jean-Robert Faveur denied that Aristide’s opponents helped arrange his departure to make the president look bad, saying he was a civil servant and not a politician. He said he has not asked for political asylum in the United States.
Faveur said he resigned June 22 after two weeks in office and fled to Miami because of the Haitian government’s efforts to undermine the autonomy of his office.
``I did not have operational control or financial control,″ he said at a news conference sponsored by the Project for Democracy in Haiti, an advocacy group. ``I was a nobody and was not managing the police. All power was in the hands of the president and the secretary of state″ for public security, Jean-Gerard Dubreuil.
Haiti’s opposition has said Faveur’s resignation will make it difficult for Aristide to keep his pledge to hold credible elections this year to break the nation’s political stalemate. A credible police force is considered a necessity for a secure campaign and voting.
Faveur, 37, who graduated from Haiti’s police academy, said that after he took over, Dubreuil, at Aristide’s direction, ordered him to sign a list of promotions and transfers of police officers. He said the people on the list had neither served long enough in their posts nor passed competitive examinations for promotion as the law requires.
He said Dubreuil told him, ``This is an order from the president,and his orders are not to be discussed.″
Eager to keep their jobs in the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country where unemployment has topped more than 50 percent, many police officers support Aristide. Officers earn about $125 a month.
The political opposition, human rights groups and the State Department have accused the 4,000-member police force of helping armed bands of Aristide supporters to break up opposition protests.
Faveur also said Dubreuil told him he would not be responsible for signing checks, the disbursement of money or budget preparation.
``I was dumfounded,″ Faveur said, ``I left the office and called and few friends and relatives. They said my life was in danger, and that I should get out of the country″ with his family. ``I followed their advice.″
In a speech to the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States Thursday, U.S. ambassador Roger Noreiga said the ``charges of political interference″ made by Faveur in his letter of resignation were ``very serious and troubling and his move called ``into question the good faith of the Haitian government″ to comply with OAS resolutions, ``especially the creation of a climate of security. ``
Associated Press correspondent Michael Norton contributed to this report from Haiti.