News Americas, LONDON, England, Fri. Mar. 18, 2011, 11:50 a.m.: Twice-exiled former president of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, has touched back down on the soil of the homeland he left behind seven years ago.
Wire reports indicated Aristide touched down at 9:05 a.m. Haitian time after leaving on a 11:13 p.m. flight from South Africa for Port-Au-Prince last night in a definance to the U.S. govenrments calls for him to stay away until after Sunday’s run-off election. He was greeted by dozens lined up behind a 200 yard rope barrier.
Aristide addressed them for about 20 minutes and criticized the electoral process while denouncing the exclusion of political parties, including his own, Fanmi Lavalas.
“The exclusion of Fanmi Lavalas is the exclusion of the Haitian people,” he said in Kreyole. In English, he added: “In 1804, the Haitian revolution marked the end of slavery. Today may the Haitian people end exiles and coup d’états, while peacefully moving from social exclusion to inclusion. ”
Aristide left Haiti in 2004 under U.S. pressure as rebels closed in on the capital.
President Obama is believed to have telephoned South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, to press his case for Aristide to stay away Thursday. This as Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council added: “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 destabilizing.”