Aristide arrives for exile in SA

Former Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide, who fled his country amid an armed uprising, has arrived for exile in South Africa.

    Aristide insists he is still the president and will return to Haiti

    Aristide was greeted by South African President Thabo Mbeki on Monday, said witnesses.

    Several members of Mbeki's cabinet, diplomats and Mozambique's foreign minister -representing the 53-member African Union-were also there to greet the former Haiti ruler, who stepped off a South African airforce jet at Johannesburg International Airport.

    Aristide left Haiti on 29 February during an armed revolt and was flown to the Central African Republic on a flight arranged by the United States.

    He travelled to Jamaica to be reunited with his children and arrange exile elsewhere, and South Africa approved his asylum request two weeks ago. 
    His stay in South Africa will be open-ended and would last
    until the situation in his homeland normalises, said South
    African Deputy Foreign Minister Aziz Pahad. 

    Aristide describes his exile in South Africa

     as his "temporary home" until he returns to Haiti.

    Controversial visit

    An Aristide spokesman said the former Haitian leader left Jamaica on Sunday with his wife and two daughters in a private jet supplied by the South African government of President Thabo Mbeki.

    "What we have in Haiti today is bad. What we have in Haiti today reminds us of what is going on in Iraq"

    Jean Bertrand Aristide,
    Former Haitian president

    "After two visits to South Africa, it will now be our temporary home until we are back in Haiti," Aristide told reporters shortly before leaving Jamaica.

    Aristide said he remained in "deep communion" with the Haitian people and that he stood in "solidarity" with all those affected by the heavy floods that have killed almost 1000 people during the last week.

    "What we have in Haiti today is bad. What we have in Haiti today reminds us of what is going on in Iraq," Aristide said.

    Aristide's invitation to South Africa has been controversial.

    The government has attracted flak from opposition parties who have spoken out against allowing Aristide into South Africa.

    The main opposition Democratic Alliance party has cast doubt over his democratic credentials and argued that taxpayers should not have to foot the bill to support him.

    "The South African government has still not explained under what legal authority Mr Aristide is being granted entry into our country," said Douglas Gibson, foreign affairs spokesman for the party.

    "Mr Aristide should go home," he added.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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