Aristide became Haiti's first freely elected president in 1991, but was overthrown after seven months. Re-elected in 2000, his second term saw economic instability and violence which culminated in protests leading to his ouster in 2004.
Before Aristide headed home, Barack Obama, the US president, called his South African counterpart, Jacob Zuma, to stress the importance of the former president not returning before the poll. (FULL ARTICLE HERE)
From Haiti Libre :
At 11h15pm local time [4h15pm Haiti time], the former President
Jean-Bertrand Aristide left South Africa with his wife Mildred Trouillot Aristide, and his two daughters [Michaela, 12 and Christine 14 years]
aboard a private jet (ZS -ZBB) after 7 years of exile.
The aircraft should stop in Dakar, Senegal to refuel and then continue its flight towards Port-au-Prince.
Before leaving Aristide gave a press conference [Zulu language] at
Lanseria airport, an airport on the outskirts of Johannesburg where he
said "The great day has arrived! The day to say goodbye before returning home [...] We are delighted to return home after seven years. In Haiti also they are very happy... Their dream will be fulfilled. Together, we will continue to share this endless love".
Except unforeseen, the former President Aristide is expected to arrive
Friday in the morning at the Toussaint Louverture International Airport
in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Original article HERE)
Breaking from Democracy Now:
Exclusive: Aboard Aristide's Airplane Ex-Haitian Leader Returns From 7 Years In ExileIn defiance of the Obama administration, former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is headed back to Haiti today for the first time since being ousted in a 2004 U.S.-backed coup. Hours ago, Aristide boarded a plane in South Africa bound for Port-Au-Prince. Joining him on the flight is his wife, Mildred Aristide, attorney Ira Kurzban and actor Danny Glover. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman is also on aboard. Minutes before takeoff she filed this report (listen to MP3) and sent exclusive photos.
AMY GOODMAN: I'm Amy Goodman, the host of Democracy Now! at the Lanseria International Airport, a private airport in Johannesburg, where the South African government flight is about to take the Aristides home from South Africa--where they've been in exile for the last seven years--to Haiti. It is a momentous time.
We just went upstairs to the news conference, which was held by South African government officials and President Aristide. He spoke in Zulu, Xhosa, and he handed out an English translation for the rest of the press to the consternation of some of them. President Aristide said in Zulu:
"Dear brothers and sisters, a great day has arrived, a day to say goodbye before returning home, the day to whole-heartedly thank President Zuma and the government, former President Mbeki and his wife, our beloved Madiba and his family"--referring of course to Nelson Mandela. "Dear friends at the University of South Africa and Wits University--all of you brothers and sisters of South Africa. My family and I will never forget this long and beautiful time spent with you in the heart of Mama Africa. We saw the spirit of Ubuntu the first day we met with Minister Dlamini-Zuma in 2003 until today. Indeed, the cleverness of our ancestors is outstanding. Ubuntu is an honor to Africa and to this country. The world truly needs this philosophy. May the starts of Ubuntu shine in the sky over the entire world."
He ended again by saying, "Warm greetings dear brothers and sisters. We wish you a prosperous life and all the best. Thank you. Bye, bye."