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Actor Glover Supports Aristide's Return to Haiti

UNICEF Ambassador and actor Danny Glover laughs during an event in Lima October 20, 2010 (file photo)
UNICEF Ambassador and actor Danny Glover laughs during an event in Lima October 20, 2010 (file photo)

Hollywood actor Danny Glover is the latest celebrity making a push for former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to return to his homeland.

Glover, who starred in the "Lethal Weapon" movies, is chairman of the U.S.-based human rights group TransAfrica Forum. He flew Thursday to South Africa where Aristide has been living in exile.

Glover wrote on the TransAfrica Forum website the purpose of his trip was to show solidarity with the people of Haiti and help return a leader they twice elected with "overwhelming support."

Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide during a press conference in Johannesburg, South Africa (file)
Former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide during a press conference in Johannesburg, South Africa (file)

Aristide expressed a desire to go back to Haiti after former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier made a surprise return in January. The United States has urged Aristide to delay his return, warning it could disrupt Sunday's presidential elections.

South Africa's government Thursday said Aristide is free to go whenever he wants. Presidency Minister Collins Chabane said Haitian officials have granted the former Haitian president a passport and that Johannesburg "can't hold him hostage."

Aristide was driven from office by armed rebels in February 2004 and sent into exile. He fled first to the Central African Republic and Jamaica before settling in South Africa.

Washington has strongly supported the current electoral process as critical to Haiti's stability after years of political turmoil and the disastrous January 2010 earthquake. The runoff election pits former first lady Mirlande Manigat against popular entertainer Michel Martelly.  

Martelly was initially excluded from the runoff until international observers reviewed the first round results and recommended he advance to the second round instead of the ruling party candidate, Jude Celestin. The observers cited fraud and irregularities in the first round of balloting, which took place in November.

Celestin was later dropped from the runoff. The person who wins the election will succeed outgoing President Rene Preval.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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