Ousted Haitian President Aristide says willing to return home | VailDaily.com

Ousted Haitian President Aristide says willing to return home

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – 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 president.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 violence.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 fallen out.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.Vail, Colorado

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