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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 May, 2005, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
Aristide backers march in Haiti
Marchers in Port-au-Prince
There was little sign of violence at the well-attended march
About 5,000 people loyal to the former President of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, have taken to the streets to demand his return from exile.

They marched through the capital, Port-au-Prince, waving banners and listening to speeches calling for Mr Aristide's return from South Africa.

Dozens of UN peacekeepers watched the march amid concerns that armed clashes might break out with local police. Meanwhile, Chile has decided to keep troops in Haiti until the year's end.

The decision on the 589 troops, taken by Chile's Senate, comes ahead of a general UN decision on whether to extend the mandate of peacekeeping forces based in Haiti.

Return calls

The marchers chanted slogans remembering how Mr Aristide returned to Haiti in 1994, three years after being ousted in a coup.

"What happened in 1994 could happen now," Printemps Belizaire, 37, told the Associated Press news agency.

"We resisted and Aristide came back. We had hope with Aristide, but without him we have no hope."

Mr Aristide stepped down amid a rebellion led by former soldiers in February 2004.

The crowds in Port-au-Prince marched to mark Flag Day, which marks the adoption of the country's flag in 1803, one year before a slave revolt secured independence and made Haiti the world's first black republic.



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