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27940: (news) Chamberlain: South Africa-Aristide (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
JOHANNESBURG (AP) -- Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the Haitian leader ousted
two years ago in a bloody coup, said Tuesday he wants to return home from
his exile in South Africa following his former protege's recent election as
In an interview with South African state television, Aristide said he
wanted to avoid politics and concentrate on promoting education in Haiti,
where some 80 percent of people are illiterate.
"I do believe I will be back as soon as possible and I will continue to
invest in education," Aristide said.
The United States and other countries have warned Aristide's return
could destabilize the Caribbean country as it tries to emerge from years of
Aristide said he would respect Rene Preval, who was declared the winner
last week of Haiti's tumultuous presidential elections.
"He is the president-elect of the country," Aristide said.
Asked about his return, Aristide replied, "I don't have a precise date.
As (South African) President (Thabo) Mbeki said the other day, it has to be
emerging from dialogue with President Preval, myself, the United Nations
and other countries because all are putting their hands together to keep
peace in the country."
Tuesday's interview marked the first time Aristide has spoken in public
since Feb. 7 elections in Haiti, a nation of 8 million ruled for decades by
military and civilian dictators.
Aristide won Haiti's first democratic elections in 1989 and was
overthrown in February 2004, fleeing amid an armed rebellion and rising
protests against corruption and other problems. He has been in exile in
South Africa since that time.
Aristide nurtured Preval's career, but the two men have subsequently
Aristide's Lavalas Family party did not contest the election and waited
until two weeks before the elections to urge its supporters to vote for
Preval, the clear frontrunner.