Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Haiti: Aristide to return on Thursday?

Exiled former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide could be back in his native Haiti this week according to the AFP news agency.

"Aristide is expected this Thursday in Port-au-Prince," reportedly said an unnamed source close to the ex-president in the AFP article published Tuesday afternoon. The article also cited Aristide spokeswoman Maryse Narcisse who claimed that preparations were under way for his return before Sunday.

Aristide’s possible return from South Africa could seriously affect the Haitian presidential runoff set to take place on Sunday between musician Michel Martelly and former first lady Mirlande Manigat. Both candidates gave their reservations over Aristide; Martelly today expressed his hope that “(Aristide’s) return doesn't create instability for the elections” while Manigat said last week that she “would prefer that he comes back after the elections.”

Earlier this week U.S. State Department officials have insisted that Aristide avoid returning to Haiti until elections are over. Yet South African deputy foreign minister Marius Fransman admitted that it is “not our responsibility” to decide when Aristide can return to Haiti. Moreover, Aristide attorney Ira Kurzban told CNN last week that his client “has no interest in meddling or being involved in the election” or with Haitian politics.

Journalist Kim Ives had plenty to say about the Aristide situation in an article in The Guardian. A recent message on his Twitter account was more concise and to the point:
The Martelly & Manigat show faced with Aristide's return is like two 60 watt bulbs burning in a yard when the sun comes up after 7 years.
Aristide was overthrown on two separate occasions including in 2004 after a “popular uprising.”

Image- AP via ABC News (“Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide seen during a press conference in Johannesburg, South Africa in this Jan. 15, 2010 file photo.”)
Online Sources- Montreal Gazette, The Independent, BBC News, AFP, Independent Online, Twitter

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