PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI, JAN. 9 -- President-elect Jean-Bertrand Aristide expressed sadness today that the Roman Catholic Church had been a victim of mob rampages this week, but he seemed to encourage roving bands who have continued to seek out stalwarts of the old Duvalier dictatorship.
In a radio address, the 37-year-old priest-turned-politician said he "shared the sadness of the religious authorities and the diplomatic corps" in the wake of attacks on the Vatican nunciature, the cathedral, the Bishops' Conference headquarters and the archbishop's residence Monday and Tuesday.
The mobs, supporters of Aristide, were angered by a Jan. 1 homily by Port-au-Prince Archbishop Francois Wolff Ligonde, a pro-Duvalier cleric who called Aristide a "socio-Bolshevik" intent on building a dictatorship. Ligonde, the Vatican nuncio, or ambassador, and other church officials are now in hiding. In the charred rubble of the Vatican embassy today, the only signs of the diplomatic finery that remained were shards of gold-rimmed Limoges china littering the back patio.
In his speech, Aristide told Haitians: "I take note of your will to catch powerful Macoutes today so that they don't destroy you tomorrow. It is legitimate." He asked only that the mobs who are seeking out Ton-Tons Macoutes -- the dreaded militia that bolstered the 29-year Duvalier family dictatorship -- use "vigilance without vengeance."
Aristide recommended that the Macoutes be turned over to the army rather than burned to death in the streets with flaming tires placed around their necks -- a recent mob tactic. Diplomats said they doubted that Aristide or his advisers were actually coordinating the vigilante violence, which has claimed dozens of lives in the wake of a coup attempt Monday. But they said Aristide, who won nearly 70 percent of the vote in elections last month, could have stopped the crowd, or at least dampened its ardor.
Aristide seemed to credit a popular impression that soldiers were more deeply involved in the coup attempt than the military has admitted. Although troops reportedly joined in an assault on the presidential palace, no soldiers have been arrested.
Aristide, a crusading leftist priest, has indicated that he will leave the priesthood once he takes office to conform with Vatican rules.