(photo over Haiti by Mac McKinney)
Aristide before the media (Al Jazeera)
UPDATE: ARISTIDE HAS NOW LANDED IN PORT-AU-PRINCE - AMY GOODMAN REPORTS ON MP3 HERE AND HERE
Haiti's former president has arrived back home from South Africa, ending seven years in exile.
Jean-Bertrand Aristide waved aside US concerns that his homecoming
might disrupt Haiti's presidential runoff scheduled for Sunday, flying
to Port-au-Prince, the capital, in a charter plane with his family.
The plane touched down at Port-au-Prince airport at 9:10am (1410GMT) on Friday.
Aristide, 57, who says Washington helped engineer his ouster in 2004, insists he will not be involved in politics.
He wants, he says, to lead his foundation's efforts to improve education in the impoverished Caribbean nation devastated by last year's catastrophic earthquake.
Aristide's supporters were preparing to give him a warm welcome, and banners welcoming "Titide" - as he is fondly known by many Haitians - have been strung across the streets of the capital.
"President Aristide is a strong leader who doesn't take orders from a superpower such as the United States," said Johnny Mazart, 36, a carpenter.
"That's why they ousted him, because he listened to the Haitian people, not foreigners."
Al Jazeera's Sebastian Walker, reporting from Port-au-Prince, said it: "The plane has just touched down right behind us and a huge cheer has gone up."
The arrival of Aristide is "an incredibly significant development in a very sensitive electoral process," said our correspondent.