Home » » Jean-Bertrand Aristide returns to Haiti, days before presidential election

Jean-Bertrand Aristide returns to Haiti, days before presidential election

Written By Rana G on Friday, March 18, 2011 | 11:46 AM

U.S. officials had urged Aristide to wait until after the election to return. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said this week that the decision to come back now "can only be seen as a conscious choice to impact Haiti's elections."

Aristide's allies in Haiti denied that his return was timed to the election. And many Haitians say that Aristide had the same right to return as Duvalier.

Martelly and Manigat, conservatives locked in a competitive race, were Aristide detractors in the past, but have said they support his right to return as a Haitian citizen.

In an overture to Aristide's political supporters, Manigat has suggested that she would turn to him for help on educational issues if she is elected president. Manigat campaign signs declaring her Haiti's "mother" allude to Aristide as its "father."

But some Haitians braced for trouble.

"It's not good Aristide is coming back," said Junior Dessier, 27, a taxi driver. "The streets will be hot and there might be violence, and that could destabilize the election."

Some exultant Aristide backers compared the former Haitian leader to Jesus and said they would await a signal from him on how to vote Sunday. But one admirer, 51-year-old Howard Lafalaise, said he would vote for neither candidate.

"No, no, no," he said. "Aristide — that's it."
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