US unhappy with Haiti vote

The United States is adopting a ``wait and see'' attitude toward Haiti's new government, in the wake of elections that the Reagan administration says were not democratic. Suspended US aid will not be resumed, officials say. Activists in Congress want the administration not to recognize the new government, which they say remains a front for the military and for supporters of ousted dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier.

Washington and other key capitals, however, will probably tell President-elect Leslie Manigat that they will judge his regime by its acts, says a well-informed official, who adds, ``He is going to have to overcome serious credibility problems and convince the world and Haitians that he is committed to a real transition to democracy.''

International donors will be watching who emerges in key government positions and how clear the transition is from the current mili-tary regime. They will also look at the type of relations Mr. Manigat establishes with the Roman Catholic Church and the democratic opposition, a foreign diplomat says. US officials say the social programs established, the seriousness of fighting drug trafficking, and overall human rights performance will also be important in judging him.

The financial crunch from suspended foreign aid should hit Manigat's government in March, increasing pressure for positive gestures.

There is little doubt here the Jan. 17 election was rigged. Several weeks before the vote, Washington and other concerned capitals had very good information that Manigat would be ``elected,'' according to US and foreign sources.

Then and now, some see Manigat as an intelligent and urbane man without blood on his hands. Others, in and out of the US administration, view him as an ``utter opportunist'' who will advance only his personal ambitions.

The skeptics also say the focus on the presidential election neglects the simultaneous parliamentary and local elections, where initial reports suggest that Duvalierist candidates won widely.

Under the new Constitution, the President shares power with a prime minister from parliament. This limits his power and gives the military greater freedom of action. The military has been consolidating its grip, sources say, cracking down on some Tonton Macoutes and integrating others into the armed forces.

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