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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 May, 2004, 15:16 GMT 16:16 UK
S Africa agrees to host Aristide
Haiti's former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Aristide says he was forced out of power
South Africa's government has given Haiti's former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide permission to visit the country.

A minister in the South African presidency, Essop Pahad, said the matter had been discussed with the United States and France and they too had agreed that Mr Aristide should be allowed in.

Opposition parties in South Africa had called on the government to refuse to grant asylum to Mr Aristide.

The former president fled from Haiti in February following a revolt against his leadership.

He initially went to the Central African Republic and then to Jamaica.

Mr Aristide has repeatedly accused the Americans and the French of forcing him into exile, but Washington says Mr Aristide agreed to leave Haiti and voluntarily signed a letter of resignation.

South Africa's Democratic Alliance said taxpayers should not have to foot the bill to support a man with doubtful democratic credentials

"The governments that are responsible for removing him from power should take responsibility," it said.

The BBC's Alastair Leithhead in Johannesburg says it is not known exactly when he will arrive with his family and bodyguards but he is expected to stay until his situation has normalised.

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