No word from US on Aristide

2011-03-15 12:22
Johannesburg - The United States has not yet asked South Africa to prevent Haiti's exiled ex-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide from returning to his country before elections, a spokesperson said Tuesday.

Aristide's aides in Haiti said last week the return of the ousted leader, who has been living in South Africa since 2004, was "imminent".

"The United States has not approached us regarding this matter. Aristide is still in South Africa. That is all I can say," foreign ministry spokesperson Saul Molobi said.

US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said on Monday that Washington believed Aristide's return would cause political turmoil as the country prepares for Sunday's presidential run-off.

Destabilising

"To return prior to the election may potentially be destabilising to the political process," he said, adding that Washington was asking South Africa to make the same request to Aristide.

Haiti cleared the way for Aristide's return by issuing him with a new passport in February.

Aristide and his wife Mildred work at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, where he received a PhD in African languages in 2007.

Aristide served three presidential terms and was ousted from office twice, eventually fleeing a 2004 popular uprising aboard a US plane.

He remains a popular figure in certain quarters in Haiti, especially in the capital's teeming slums, and in the tent cities that have sprung up since the January 2010 earthquake where many decry the slow pace of progress.

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