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Aristide Calls for Peaceful Resistance Against 'Occupation' of Haiti - 2004-03-08


Ousted Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide insisted Monday he is still the leader of Haiti, and called for peaceful resistance against what he described as occupation of his homeland.

One week after arriving in Bangui, Central African Republic, Mr. Aristide called on Haitians to peacefully resist the foreign occupation of their homeland.

He spoke at a news conference in Bangui at which he repeated statements aired earlier in the day on RTL French radio. He said in both he is still the elected president of Haiti, and called for the restoration of democracy in his country.

His lawyer, Gilbert Collard, said earlier the exiled Haitian leader was not free to move or speak publicly. He said Mr. Aristide has been held as a prisoner at a villa on the grounds of the presidential palace in Bangui and is not allowed to leave the grounds or talk with anyone.

The lawyer also said Mr. Aristide continues to insist that he did not step down as president of Haiti. He said that Mr. Aristide did not resign, but only gave a note stating that, if his departure would avoid a bloodbath then he was willing to leave, but that he did not intend to hand power over to a foreign force.

The lawyer said Mr. Aristide intends to return to Haiti and to the presidential palace.

It is unclear whether Mr. Aristide will be allowed to remain in the Central African Republic permanently.