For­mer Haitian pres­i­dent Aris­tide breaks his si­lence for the first time

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

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.

AP

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.

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