US warns Aristide not to return from exile By Tom Mellen

10 February 2011 — Morning Star

Washington warned former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Wednesday not to return from exile ahead of next month’s presidential election.

A day after Mr Aristide’s lawyer picked up a diplomatic passport for him from the Haitian government, State Department spokesman Philip Crowley claimed that his return would disrupt the controversial March 20 vote.

Mr Aristide has lived in South Africa since he was overthrown in a US-backed coup in 2004.

His return ‘would prove to be an unfortunate distraction to the people of Haiti’ and the US ‘would hate to see any action that introduces divisiveness into this election process,’ Mr Crowley said.

Mr Aristide’s progressive Fanmi Lavalas party, by far the most popular in Haiti, was excluded from the first round of voting on November 28, along with 14 other parties.

Fewer than one in four Haitians voted and there were irregularities with a quarter of the ballots cast.

But the results were confirmed last week by the electoral council, which eliminated the government-backed candidate.

Former first lady Mirlande Manigat faces popular singer Michel ‘Sweet Micky’ Martelly on March 20.

Haitian citizens have been protesting for weeks to have the results annulled and fresh elections called, saying that the whole US-funded process has been utterly compromised by fraud and voter intimidation.

The return of Haiti’s first democratically elected president would add to the mounting pressure for a re-run with Fanmi Lavalas on the ballot.

Last week Mr Aristide said it is the ‘solemn obligation of all Haitians to join in earthquake reconstruction efforts and to have a voice in the direction of the nation.’

He said reconstruction was slow because it is ‘profit-driven, exclusionary, conceived of and implemented by non-Haitians.’

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