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Former Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide, who fled his
country amid an armed uprising against him, left Jamaica yesterday
for exile in South Africa, which he called his "temporary home"
until he returns to Haiti.
An Aristide spokesman said the former Haitian leader left Jamaica
at 17:45 GMT with his wife and two daughters in a private jet
supplied by the South African government of President Thabo
"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 1 000 people during the
In mid-March, Jamaican Prime Minister Percival Patterson invited
Aristide to his Caribbean island country for a 10-week visit with
his two daughters, who traveled there from the US to meet him.
Aristide had voiced his desire to stay in South Africa since his
Aristide left his own country amid mounting disaffection over his
increasingly totalitarian methods, cronyism, corruption and failure
to make a dent in the calamitous economic problems facing Haiti's
But the former priest was set to receive a red-carpet welcome at
the Johannesburg International Airport on Monday, where the South
African government said Mbeki would "officially receive and
Aristide, who will live in Pretoria, will hold a press conference
with Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma tomorrow, the
In Haiti, Aristide's political opponents welcomed his exile from
"The fact that he is getting away from Haiti's coast is a good
thing, since he was using the Jamaican territory to destabilise the
democratic transition process," Micha Gaillard, leader of the
National Congress of Democratic Movements, told AFP.
"We hope the South African government will make Jean Bertrand
Aristide understand that its hospitality does not represent support
to block Haiti's development," Gaillard said.
Aristide, 50, left power on February 29 and spent two weeks in the
Central African Republic, where he said he had been pushed from
power by the US with French backing. Washington and Paris strongly
denied the claims.
In March, South Africa called for a United Nations-led probe into
the circumstances leading to Aristide's departure.
Aristide told reporters here "the full answer" surrounding his
controversial departure will be detailed in an upcoming book that
"is almost ready."
The former priest was first elected in 1990. He was ousted in a
coup in 1991 only to return to power with US military backing in
He stepped down after a five-year term, but ran again in
He claimed victory, but observers said the elections were flawed
and opposition parties claim his Lavalas party rigged the
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 Aristide is being granted entry into our country,"
Douglas Gibson, foreign affairs spokesman for the party, said