New passport for ex-Haiti leader Aristide

2011-02-07 22:24

Port-au-Prince - The Haitian government on Monday issued a new passport to former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, enabling him to end his exile in South Africa and return to Haiti, a government official said.

"The passport was issued on Monday. All the formalities have been completed," the official said, asking to remain anonymous, adding the document had been handed over to one of Aristide's lawyers, Ira Kurzban.

Kurzban, who is based in Miami, arrived in recent days in Haiti to take possession of the passport, the official added.

The news, certain to add to the uncertainty in this quake-hit nation, came as about 200 people demonstrated in the capital Port-au-Prince calling for President Rene Preval to step down.

"Preval, give back the keys to the palace, your mission is at an end," they shouted, at the demonstration held in front of the presidential palace, still in ruins after the January 2010 earth quake.

Preval had been due to step down from office on Monday, but the presidential elections have been bogged down by accusations of corruption and vote-rigging in favour of his preferred successor.

'Baby Doc' Duvalier

The Haiti election commission ruled on Thursday that popular singer Michel Martelly - and not the ruling party's Jude Celestin - would now face off against former first lady Mirlande Manigat in the second round on March 20.

Preval, who passed emergency legislation last year extending his mandate in the event of an electoral delay, has now said he plans to stay in office until the next president and government is installed.

It is not yet clear how Aristide's return - coming so soon after former dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier ended two decades in exile - will impact on the political scene.

Aristide has been living in South Africa since 2004, and in recent months has repeatedly requested to be allowed to return home to the Caribbean nation, but said he had no travel documents as his passport had expired.


Haiti's first democratically elected leader who was forced to flee amid a popular revolt after two stints as president, Aristide has said he wants to return to help his countrymen.

A former priest, Aristide has long maintained he was forced to step down under pressure from the United States and France.

"Since my forced arrival in the Mother Continent six and a half years ago, the people of Haiti have never stopped calling for my return to Haiti," he said in a statement sent to AFP last month.

"As far as I am concerned, I am ready. Once again I express my readiness to leave today, tomorrow, at any time."

Haiti has been in turmoil since the January 2010 earthquake devastated the impoverished country, killing 250 000 people and leaving 1.3 million homeless.

Last month, Duvalier's return some two decades after he was overthrown in a popular uprising against his brutal rule also fuelled tensions in a nation which has known years of political upheaval and bloodshed.

Monday marked exactly 25 years to the day since Duvalier departed aboard a US air force plane, bringing to an abrupt end a lavish and notoriously corrupt dictatorship.

  • AJ - 2011-02-08 06:24

    Going back to 'lead' and 'serve the people' no doubt?

  • Looter - 2011-02-08 07:52

    that place is screwed! nothing left but barren land and uneducated public. That place is so populated but its one of the poorest countries in the world....why??? no common scenes? just asking!

  • jiamalunga - 2011-02-08 07:53

    Are we still paying for this douchbag....

  • Ross - 2011-02-08 07:58

    This Dude wil NEVER ever exchange his taxpayer funded Waterkloof lifestyle for that hellhole called Haiti.

  • Jakkals911 - 2011-02-08 08:07

    Aristide has been a parasite for far too long - we, the taxpaying public have been supporting him and his family for the past umpteen years to live in luxury, while our own people battle to keep body and soul together. Of course, we have Mbeki to thank for this state of affairs - remember, he also donated something like R1-million (or was it R10-million) to Haiti at the time. Nah - send the parasites packing, let them go back to where they belong and suffer with the rest of their fellow-Haitians - a people who have been the most impoverished nation for the past 200+ years since 'independence' - and only themselves to blame...

      Ukadebona - 2011-02-08 11:51

      On the other hand I wish that he stay put & all europeans offsprings pack their filthy bags & leave.The man is an ofspring of African people that Mbeki, Zuma & I can identify with.Yes we must keep paying for his stay the same way we are paying the dept made by Apartheid lods & their followers to keep that utopia of an ideology going.Seng'shilo.

  • Njobo - 2011-02-08 08:39

    Aristide is complicating the already fragile country's politics.HE can go back but it must be clear to him that he is not the president he is civilian!He has to help build the government and rebuilt the Haitian nation,then he will participate in the next election he wants

  • croix - 2011-02-08 08:45

    'Nuff said - except "bye,bye freeloader"!

      Ockert - 2011-02-08 10:04

      Hope they arrest him and put him before a court of law, for his crimes against the Haiti people.

  • Anton - 2011-02-08 11:36

    he will go back....remember he is a multi billionaire out of corruption and stealing.......he has lost 6 years of income bt being here........he wants to go and add some more foreign donor aid to his offshore accounts

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