Haitis Aristide calls for restoring democracy

Deposed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide has called for the restoration of democracy in Haiti.

Speaking from exile in Pretoria, South Africa, Aristide challenged the legitimacy of elections slated for November and December in his home country.

“In 1994, who could have expected free, fair and democratic elections in South Africa with Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Oliver Tambo and other leaders and members of the African National Congress in jail, exile and hiding?” Aristide asked. “Today in 2005, who can expect free, fair and democratic elections in Haiti with thousands of Lavalas [members of Aristide’s party] in jail, exile and hiding?”

Aristide said that since his ouster, the U.S.-, French-, and Canadian-backed interim government in Haiti has killed 10,000 people in a campaign of political repression. The killings constitute “a black holocaust,” he said.

Aristide called on Haiti’s interim government to release its political prisoners, initiate a national dialogue and hold elections free of repression and exclusion. He said that recent demonstrations involving thousands “calling for my return and the restoration of constitutional order must be heard.”

Aristide was ousted from office by U.S. Marines who seized him Feb. 29, 2004, and flew him out of the country. The U.S. then installed the present government led by longtime Florida resident Gerard Latortue.