Joyous welcome awaits Aristide in Haiti

2011-03-18 10:03

kalahari.com

  • Zuma Exposed
    This book exposes Jacob Zuma, in such a way that he would not want you or anyone else to read it. Now R189.00
    buy now
Port-au-Prince - Joy filled Jean-Bertrand Aristide's most ardent followers early on Friday as they waited the last few hours until the former president considered by many a champion of the poor returned from seven years of exile.

Thousands were expected to throng the airport to greet the chartered jet carrying Aristide from South Africa, where the government assisted his departure despite a request from US President Barack Obama that the homecoming be postponed until after Haiti's presidential runoff election on Sunday.

"We are going to party," said 36-year-old mechanic Assey Woy, discussing the news of the ousted leader's return with friends on a street corner downtown. "It will be like New Year's Day."

Energy spread through Aristide's followers on Thursday as word spread across Haiti that he was heading back home. Some joined in a raucous, horn-blaring victory procession.

Others decorated the courtyard of his foundation headquarters with Haitian flags and photos of the former president. One woman waited with a bouquet of flowers.

"We just want to see him," said 30-year-old Lesley Jean-Giles.

Twice elected president and twice deposed, Aristide is a hugely popular but also hugely polarising figure in Haiti.

The US and others fear his presence will disrupt the election and bring further disarray to a country struggling to emerge from a political crisis, a cholera epidemic and the devastation of the January 2010 earthquake.

Aristide could sway election outcome


Aristide, who was last ousted in a 2004 rebellion amid accusations that he led a corrupt government and orchestrated violent attacks on his foes, has no intention of becoming involved in politics, said his lawyer, Ira Kurzban, and other supporters.

But Aristide could sway the outcome of the election with an endorsement of either candidate.

"We're going to stay wherever he is until he tells us what to do," said Tony Forest, aged 44, a minbus driver. "We will vote for the candidate he picks."

Aristide did not mention politics as he board the aircraft for home in a blue suit with his wife, Mildred, and two daughters.

"The great day has arrived! The day to say goodbye before returning home," he said in Zulu, a language he studied in South Africa. "We are delighted to return home after seven years. In Haiti also they are very happy. ... Their dream will be fulfilled. Together, we will continue to share this endless love."

He took no questions from the dozens of journalists who gathered to see him off.

Aristide, a former slum priest who became Haiti's first democratically elected president, did not fully serve either of his terms. He was ousted the first time in a coup, then restored to power in a US military intervention in 1994.

After completing that term in 1996, he was elected again in 2001, only to flee a rebellion in 2004 aboard a US aircraft. Aristide claimed he was kidnapped. US officials denied that.

Return could be destabilising

In exile, he has been reclusive, doing university research and polishing his academic credentials with a doctorate awarded by the University of South Africa for a comparative study on Zulu and Haitian Creole.

Obama was concerned enough about Aristide's possibly destabilising influence to call South African President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday and discuss the matter, US National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor told The Associated Press.

"The United States, along with others in the international community, has deep concerns that President Aristide's return to Haiti in the closing days of the election could be destabilising," Vietor said.

Aristide's aides say he feared that if he waited, the winner of Sunday's vote might block his return.

In the past, both candidates - university administrator and former first lady Mirlande Manigat and popular singer Michel "Sweet Micky" Martelly - opposed Aristide.

Now, both Martelly and Manigat stress their support for his right to return as a Haitian citizen under the constitution. Both candidates would like to attract votes from followers of Aristide's Lavalas Family party.

Leading voice for the poor


Haiti's electoral council barred Lavalas from the presidential election for technical reasons that supporters said were bogus. Its members are boycotting Sunday's runoff.

In front of Haiti's crumbled National Palace, a man who is supporting Martelly in Sunday's election told Associated Press Television News that he had mixed feelings about the arrival.

"Yes, I support Aristide. I love Aristide," said the man who gave only his first name, Carlos. "But I don't want him to come back right now because it can be trouble for the election."

The initial November 28 vote was so troubled by fraud, disorganisation, instances of violence and voter intimidation that 12 of the 19 candidates including the front-runners initially called for it to be tossed out.

Aristide emerged as a leading voice for Haiti's poor in a popular revolt that forced an end to the Duvalier family's 29-year dictatorship. He has said he will not be involved in politics in Haiti and wants to lead his foundation's efforts to improve education in the impoverished Caribbean nation devastated by last year's catastrophic earthquake.


- AP
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
7 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Music
Traffic & Train Alerts
Traffic
Kommetjie 08:33 AM
Road name: Kommetjie Road Northbound

DELAYS between Slangkop Road and Ou Kaapse Weg

Cape Town 08:30 AM
Road name: N1 Inbound

DELAYS between Jip De Jager Drive and the M5 Koeberg Interchange

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 30% off top fragrances

Get mind blowing savings on selected fragrances. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today you may want to bond with your children and need to connect to your imaginative and playful side. It may be that you are...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.