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24823: (news) Chamberlain: Haiti's Aristide seeks return to office
Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Manoah Esipisu
PRETORIA, April 19 (Reuters) - Ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand
Aristide called on Tuesday for his restoration as leader of the Caribbean
country and a national dialogue to pave the way for free and fair
He accused the United States, France and others he blames for his
expulsion of instigating a "black holocaust" in Haiti and said they had a
At a rare news conference from his exile in South Africa, Aristide
urged an end to repression, which he said had killed thousands in the past
year and which targeted his supporters.
"The continued peaceful demonstrations calling for my return and the
restoration of constitutional order must be heard. The people voted for a
president and they want him back, I support them because it is fair,"
"Thousands of Lavalas (members of Aristide's party) who are in jail
and in exile must be free to return home. The repression that has already
killed over 10,000 people must end immediately. Then, there must be
Aristide was forced to leave Haiti 14 months ago in the face of an
armed rebellion and under pressure from Washington and Paris.
He said his expulsion, which he maintains amounted to a coup, had
failed to return peace and his country of 8 million people was still
bleeding 200 years after independence.
At the weekend U.N. Security Council envoys said they would look
favourably on Haiti's request for more peacekeeping police as they wrapped
up a four-day visit marked by violence in the streets of the capital
But ambassadors expressed concern about the deep divisions among
Haiti's numerous political parties ahead of elections planned for November.
The council pressed Haiti's interim government to stick to the
election timetable and to take a more aggressive stand against violence by
armed gangs in parts of the country, some of it blamed on Aristide
Aristide said he wanted free, fair and democratic elections organised
in an environment where a majority of Haitians were not excluded or
oppressed "as is the case today".
"The U.N. went to Haiti and they heard the voices of our people, 8
million of them. They want a restoration of peace and an inclusive process
like we had here in South Africa in 1994. South Africa could not have held
free and fair elections if Nelson Mandela and others were still in jail or
exile," he said.
Interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue told the visiting ambassadors
on Saturday that his government would hold elections on time but said more
international police would help ensure security during the campaign.