Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has returned home to Haiti from exile in South Africa, just days before the country's presidential runoff election.
Aristide spoke briefly after landing at Toussaint L'Ouverture Airport in Port-au-Prince but made no direct reference to Sunday's vote. He alluded, however, to the exclusion of his own party, Fanmi Lavalas, banned from participating in the election.
"Today the Haitian people mark the end of exile and coup d'etats while peacefully we must move from social exclusion to social inclusion," Aristide said in the airport's diplomatic lounge.
Speaking in Creole, French and several other languages, Aristide, 57, said he condemned the violence that has wracked his nation since the disputed late November presidential election.
Aristide, a polarizing figure in Haiti, became the second former president to return to Port-au-Prince this year. Dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier flew back from France unexpectedly in January.
Aristide made his way from the airport to his former home in the neighborhood of Tabarre, which was recently fixed up and painted in anticipation of his return.
… Aristide was shuttled out of Haiti in 2004 on a U.S. plane after bloodshed on the streets and charges of authoritarianism and corruption. His supporters, including Glover, say the White House wants to keep Aristide out of Haiti in favor of a leader more in line with its own views.
Aristide and supporters like Danny Glover insist that he doesn't want to interfere with the election (but, rather, that he wanted to get back to Haiti in advance of the vote in case the next president chose to deny him the right to return). Unfortunately, it seems that his arrival will cause turmoil whether or not this is his intention.
Raoul Jean Cetoute, a 66-year-old carpenter, told CNN that he would refrain from visiting the polls Sunday, explaining, "I'm not going to vote in this masquerade election. We'll listen and analyze what (Aristide) says to know what to do." If enough Haitians share that outlook, it could seriously cripple progress for the already struggling country.
Read more at CNN.
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