The new military-dominated junta announced today the formation of a 19-member Cabinet -- most of them with ties to the fallen government of president Jean-Claude Duvalier -- and freed scores of political prisoners.
Opposition leaders warily took note of the presence of old-line Duvalierists in key ministries, and made it clear that they fully expected the new military-dominated government to be only a transitional one and to live up to a statement by the Army that it has no desire to hold power.
"My problem is to see that the transitional government survives until elections are called," said leading opposition figure Gregoire Eugene, who said he would be a candidate for president.
The political hopefuls were encouraged by the fact that the new government released at least two dozen political prisoners as one of its first actions today. Most of them were arrested late last year.
Among those said to be released were opposition politician Serge Auguste and Gabriel Herard, a journalist with Samedi Soir, an opposition newspaper.
While opposition leaders prepared for a resumption of political life in a country that had become a symbol of repression during the 29 years of Duvalier family rule, violence and sporadic gunfire continued through the day as crowds sought vengeance on Duvalier's old security force, the once-dreaded Ton-Tons Macoutes.
There were reports of Ton-Tons Macoutes being hacked with machetes and beheaded, and of their houses being stormed by mobs. In one suburban neighborhood, several heavily armed Ton-Tons Macoutes barricaded themselves in a two-story house and engaged in a brief gun battle with Army troops.
The local hospital, which was mobbed this morning by hundreds of persons looking for treatment or information about family members, reported treating scores of victims suffering from gunshot, knife and machete wounds.
A 2 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew remained in effect this afternoon, business and government offices remained closed, and the international airport was shut down for a second day.
The situation was reported to be the same in Cap-Haitien and Gonaives, with crowds attacking former Ton-Tons Macoutes and heavily armed security force members firing back with volleys from their machine guns.
Duvalier's 15-year dictatorship -- established when his father, Francois, died in 1971 after ruling for 14 years -- collapsed under mounting pressure from street protesters, from the business community and from the U.S. government, which had been subtly but firmly signaling that it wanted Duvalier to leave.
Duvalier, who made a broadcast just nine days ago saying that he was firmly in power, fled to France unceremoniously yesterday morning under the cover of darkness, with 21 family members aboard a U.S. Air Force C141.
With Jean-Claude Duvalier now off the scene, attention turned to the emerging character of the military-civilian council that Duvalier left in charge.
The president and most powerful figure on the new five-member governing council is Duvalier's Army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Henri Namphy, a confidant of the elder (Papa Doc) Duvalier. Opposition figures said they were relying on Namphy's good reputation to fulfill his pledge to give Haitians their first freely elected government since the elder Duvalier was elected in 1957.
But the roles of other figures in the national council, and the power they will wield, still were unclear today. It remained to be seen, for example, whether Col. Max Valles, the U.S.-trained commander of the powerful presidential guard, would take a subservient role to Namphy. The elder Duvalier created the guard and built it up as a significant and heavily armed counterweight to the Army following rumors of a coup plot in the 1960s.
Since then, military power in Haiti has been divided among the Army, the presidential guard and the Ton-Tons Macoutes. Even the Army has been badly fragmented, with at least a half dozen separate commands reporting directly to the president rather than the chief of staff.
Valles was named information minister in the new Cabinet. The powerful Interior Ministry, which is in charge of the Army and police forces, was given to another U.S.-trained Army officer, Col. William Regala.
Gerard Gourgue, the only member of the governing council who was a critic of the Duvalier government, was given the Ministry of Justice. It was unclear how much control he would have over the judicial system, but analysts saw it as significant that the justice portfolio will go to a civilian who heads the Haitian Human Rights League and has been outspoken in his criticism of government abuses of the legal process.
The Foreign Ministry went to Francois Jacques, described as a moderate with experience in a past Duvalier government.
Opposition leaders reacted hopefully to the naming of the new Cabinet, despite the presence of so many figures from the Duvalier government, and they began preparing for future election campaigns.
"The government is a transitional one, so the Cabinet doesn't mean anything," said Eugene, head of the Social Christian Party and an outspoken Duvalier critic who was once jailed by the deposed president.
Hubert de Ronceray, who was arrested last year for criticizing Duvalier's human rights record in an interview given outside Haiti, said he expected the new government to hold an election when the violence subsides.