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SA in no hurry to send Aristide back to Haiti

South Africa is in no hurry to send ousted president Jean Bertrand Aristide back to Haiti without first securing agreement from the new president, the foreign minister said on Monday.

”South Africa as the host country is still willing to have Jean Bertrand Aristide here,” Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said after talks with French Cooperation and Development Minister Brigitte Gerardin.

”We are not in a hurry to ship him back to Haiti. His return will have to be agreed by the president and the government of Haiti,” she said after meeting her French counterpart for two hours in the capital.

Dlamini-Zuma and Gerardin, who is in South Africa for two days of meetings, said they discussed the situation in other African countries as well as the subject of Aristide, who fled into exile in 2004.

”In principle he will not reside in South Africa for life. But he is not going to Haiti next week either. We are waiting to see the aftermath of the elections and how the government starts working,” she said.

Aristide, who has been living in exile in South Africa since May 2004, said in February that he hoped to return to his country and devote himself to education.

Haitian President-elect Rene Preval, who is to be sworn in on May 14, has left the door open to Aristide’s return, saying he has a right as a Haitian citizen to live in his country.

But the United States has taken a dim view of a possible Aristide return, saying the former president is a man of the past who would detract attention from Haiti’s task of building stability and democracy. — AFP



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