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Last Updated: Thursday, 23 February 2006, 01:43 GMT
Haiti 'to allow' Aristide return
Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide
Jean-Bertrand Aristide says Haitians want him to return
Haiti's President-elect Rene Preval has said the constitution permits the return of ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, now in exile in South Africa.

He was speaking after Mr Aristide said he intended to return to his country as soon as possible.

The ousted leader said his supporters had voted for his return by electing Mr Preval, his former ally.

But the US state department said Mr Aristide's return would serve no useful purpose and could destabilise Haiti.

"Aristide is from the past. We're looking to the future," State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said.

He was responding to Mr Aristide's first comments about his possible return since Mr Preval won the vote earlier this month.

I have the right to be back
Jean-Bertrand Aristide
"For the past two years, the Haitian people fought peacefully through demonstrations calling for my return," Mr Aristide, who was forced from office in 2004, said on Wednesday.

"When they went to vote, they voted for my return and they said it very clearly."

However, he said the date of his return was not yet clear.

"It will emerge from consultation with those who are concerned.

"If the US really cares about democracy, as they say, about freedom, as they say, everybody would expect them to show respect for human rights. I have the right to be back," Mr Aristide added.


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