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Aristide ready to return to Haiti

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

Aristide ready to return to Haiti

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Less than a week after deposed Haitian leader Jean Claude Duvalier made a surprise return to Haiti, another former head of state is eyeing a return to the French-speaking Caribbean country. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who now lives in exile in South Africa, has sent a letter to his former foreign press liaison, Michelle Karshan, indicating that he is “ready” to return home.
Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest, was swept out of office in 2004 and he has consistently blamed the United States and France for his downfall. Karshan told reporters that she received the letter “directly” from Aristide, 57, and his spokeswoman Maryse Narcisse.
“The purpose is very clear: To contribute to serving my Haitian sisters and brothers as a simple citizen in the field of education,”’ wrote Aristide in the letter, dated January 19. “The return is indispensable, too, for medical reasons: It is strongly recommended that I not spend the coming winter in South Africa’s because in six years I have undergone six eye surgeries,” he added.
Seven months after he was democratically elected in 1990 for his first term, Aristide, who fought the Duvalier regime in the mid-1980s, was ousted by a military junta. Three years later, a US invasion restored him to power. But he went into exile a second time in 2004 amid a violent rebellion.
Aristide has been a research fellow at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, where he has been teaching and presenting research papers, such as “Why African descendants are still facing poverty in Haiti.”
Aristide’s desire to return to Haiti comes just days after Duvalier, known as “Baby Doc,” returned here on Sunday ending 25 years in exile. (CMC)