Supporters of Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Photo by Ben Piven
Haiti, Latin America: Week in Review

Jean-Bertrand Aristide To Return To Haiti Ahead Of Runoff Election

March 18, 2011 By Staff

Supporters of Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Photo by Ben Piven

Today in Latin America

Top Story — Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide left South Africa on Thursday and is headed toward Haiti, The New York Times reports. He is expected to arrive today.

“We experience sadness in leaving our dear friends, but on the other hand, we are delighted to return home after seven years,” Aristide said in a statement read mostly in Zulu, according to the Times. “In Haiti also they are very happy because they were waiting for us.”

Thousands of supporters gathered at the airport this morning to await the former leader’s return, according to The Associated Press.

The return promises to stir controversy as Haiti approaches its runoff election on Sunday. Aristide was a polarizing figure who was elected twice and overthrown twice. He accuses the United States of involvement in the second coup against him, which brought General Raoul Cedras to power.

President Barack Obama opposes Aristide’s return to Haiti, saying that it could destabilize the country before the election on Sunday.

Aristide’s return to Haiti follows that of Jean-Claude Duvalier — the former dictator known by his nickname as “Baby Doc.” Duvalier is currently awaiting the outcome of legal proceedings for corruption and human rights abuses.

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Image: Ben Piven @ Flickr.

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