US says Aristide was not 'kidnapped'

A senior US Bush administration official says the former president of Haiti left office of his own accord and was not coerced.

    Aristide left of his own free will says the US

    Jean Bertrand Aristide "forfeited" his leadership of the troubled Caribbean nation, the White House's national security adviser said on Sunday, insisting that he resigned voluntarily.

    "We believe president Aristide forfeited his ability to lead his people," Condoleezza Rice told NBC television.

    She slapped down Aristide's claim that he was the victim of a "political kidnapping" orchestrated by the United States and France.

    "He was not duped by the United States," Rice said.

    "Now that he has stepped down, Haiti is moving forward," she said.

    Rice also called Aristide's upcoming trip to Jamaica a "bad idea."

    Arisride escort

    Jamaican Prime Minister Percival Patterson and US officials were expected to arrive in the Central African Republic later on Sunday to accompany Aristide and his wife to Jamaica in the coming days.

    The Aristides' two daughters are currently in Jamaica, where the family is expected to stay for a few weeks.

    Aristide stepped down from power in Port-au-Prince and went to the impoverished Central African Republic under intense international pressure after three weeks of insurrection in his Caribbean island state.



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