Former Haitian president Aristide breaks his silence for the first time
Haiti’s former president JeanBertrand Aristide has spoken in public for the first time since returning from exile in 2011, calling on Haitians to elect his party’s candidate as president.
Speaking from the back of a pickup truck outside his home late Wednesday, Aristide galvanized a crowd of about 2,000 followers who waited for hours to hear him speak. “We must mobilize ourselves to vote democratically for Dr. Maryse Narcisse’s arrival at the national palace,” he said referring to the candidate of his Fanmi Lavalas party.
The first round of the presidential elections are scheduled for Oct. 25.
Narcisse, a physician and longtime Lavalas activist, is one of 54 candidates running to succeed Michel Martelly as Haiti’s president.
Reprising some of his bestknown slogans, which followers repeated in chorus, Aristide, a firebrand former Catholic priest, called for unity among Haitians.
“You the victims of insecurity, of abuse, of hunger, of unemployment ... and all Haitians who are victims of repatriations from Santo Domingo must mobilize together.”
“Rich and poor, we must understand each other to re-stitch the flag of unity.”
Aristide was speaking on an important day for his followers, for it was Sept. 30, 1991 that he was forced out of office and into exile by a military coup just seven months after becoming Haiti’s first democratically elected president.
He returned to power from 1994 to 1996 and again from 2001 to 2004, when he was chased from office by a popular revolt. He went into exile for seven years until his return in March 2011.
Haiti’s former president, Jean Bertrand Aristide, center, waves to the crowd after he urged supporters to vote for presidential candidate Maryse Narcisse, center right, of the Fanmi Lavalas political party, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Wednesday, Sept. 30.