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Row erupts over Aristide’s plane fare

Two days before ousted Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide and his family are to leave for temporary asylum in South Africa, it is still unclear who will pay the plane fare.

Published reports on Friday said the Jamaican and South African governments were arguing over who would pay to fly Aristide, his wife Mildred and their security detail to South Africa.

Aristide left power on February 29 and spent two weeks in the Central African Republic, where he said he had been pushed from power by the United States with French backing. Washington and Paris strongly denied the claims.

In mid-March, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Percival Patterson invited Aristide to his Caribbean island country for a 10-week visit with his daughters, who travelled there from the United States to meet him.

A member of the US House of Representatives, Maxine Waters, was expected to arrive in Jamaica on Friday.

Waters accompanied the Aristides from the Central African Republic to Jamaica in March, but officials would not confirm if she would also accompany the Aristides to South Africa.

Aristide’s visit has drawn much condemnation from opposition parties, with the Democratic Alliance (DA) last week questioning the government’s wisdom over the initation.

”The ministers of foreign affairs and finance needs to explain to Parliament and the people of South Africa how much Aristide’s stay is going to cost the South African taxpayer, and where the money is going to come from,” said party spokesperson Douglas Gibson last week, objecting to the costs involved in accommodating Aristide.

Netshitenzhe, in response, argued that in acceding to this request, South Africa sought to contribute to international efforts to bring stability to Haiti.

”South Africa has a responsibility, as an African country and as part of the international community, to ensure that democracy and peace prevail in Haiti and that the people of this country are able democratically to elect their leaders,” he said.

Netshitenzhe said government also supported the call for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Aristide’s removal from office and was committed to building international consensus against unilateral regime changes.

”We hope that all South Africans will handle this matter with dignity and maturity. We believe that as we mature as a democracy and as a country that has got this important role to play in international relations, we would all come to appreciate that international diplomacy does not lend itself to mathematical equations where you would have precise condition of comfort and discomfort, precise resolutions to problems with precise answers,” he said. – Sapa-AFP

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