American troops took over Haiti's Parliament building and City Hall Tuesday in preparation for the return of this Caribbean nation's lawmakers and the Port-au-Prince mayor.
The Americans also were to begin their guns-for-money program, paying $50 to $300 to anyone who turns in a firearm - part of an American effort to rid the streets of weapons.Military police stretched concertina barbed wire about 50 feet outside the Parliament building. Soldiers in green camouflage uniforms patrolled the roof and stood guard inside the main gate.
A large crowd of Haitians gathered to watch. They booed loudly as a truckload of Haitian police drove by.
At City Hall, armored vehicles were parked just inside the compound and U.S. Army Humvees with machine guns mounted on top stood guard outside.
The Parliament is scheduled to convene Wednesday to begin discussion of an amnesty law, which was part of the deal worked out by the military junta and an American delegation headed by former President Jimmy Carter.
U.S. sources said they expected Port-au-Prince Mayor Evans Paul to emerge from hiding Thursday and return to his office at City Hall.
Paul, who was President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's campaign manager, has been in hiding for much of the three years since Aristide was overthrown by the military.
American officials, meanwhile, have expressed concern over what they called "mission creep." That is, they come to the country with a specific plan, in this case to restore the elected government, but find their role slowly expanding.
In the north, for example, many authorities have simply abdicated to American forces. And in Port-au-Prince, even routine police work is now sometimes referred to the Americans.
Some 10,000 American troops have come to Haiti to help pave the way for Aristide's restoration. The outpouring of support for the U.S. soldiers has been effusive in Haiti, where many are eager to put behind years of brutal dictatorship in favor of a democracy they have never known.
The United Nations, meanwhile, has 16 military observers monitoring the activities of the U.S. troops. Two are from France, four from Bangladesh, two from Ireland, four from New Zealand, two from Djibouti and two from Guatemala.
"Their role will be to observe operations of the multinational force within the framework of U.N. resolution 940 and to report to the secretary-general on its implementation," said U.S. military spokesman Col. Barry Willey.
A team of two observers will be attached to each of the six battalions deployed in Haiti, he said. Another 44 U.N. monitors were to arrive later in the week.
The U.S. military intervention in Haiti began eight days ago. Since then, troops have fanned out inside and around the two biggest cities.
"They really don't associate with us," said 10th Mountain Division Cpl. Wayne Pelletier of Leominister, Mass., referring to Haitian police. "They don't know if they should beat people in front of us, or wait until we leave."
U.S. soldier killed
An American soldier was found shot to death Tuesday in the northern part of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. Embassy in Haiti said. The soldier, an apparent victim of a sniper, was not identified.