Exiled former-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide is scheduled to returned to Haiti by the end of the week, leaving a country gearing up for it’s second round run-off elections on pins and needles to see how his return will be received. While Aristide has repeatedly claimed that he is not returning for political reasons, his timing could not be more political, coming just days before Sunday’s elections are supposed to take place.
Aristide has been living in exile in Pretoria, South Africa for the past seven years after being ousted (or forcibly removed, however you see it), in 2004. He claims he wants to return to Haiti to help with the earthquake recovery, and pursue his passion, which is education. He also mentioned that he has had a number of eye surgeries while in South Africa, and that his eyes would be better maintained if he returned to Haiti (which doesn’t really make sense to me considering all the junk that is flying around in the air here, but I’m not an optometrist).
There are a few reasons why Aristide may have chosen this specific time to return to Haiti:
1. He is worried that after a new President has been elected he, or she, will not allow him to return.
2. He would like the elections to be annulled and conducted again (his Lavalas party was banned from participating in the elections).
3. He really wants to come back to help.
4. He’s worried that he will become irrelevant once the elections are over.
There are rumors that Preval had a hand in this, making way for the return of his former colleague in an effort to cause chaos during a run-off that his hand-picked candidate was left out of. Either way, it’s a tense time in the country, and everyone is wondering what is going to happen next. It’s not outside the realm of possibility to think that supporters will take to the streets once he returns, in fact, it’s inevitable. What effect this will have on the elections is the question on many people’s minds, especially the US State Department who has (again) encouraged him to wait until after the run-off is complete. His comments once he arrives are going to be crucial to whether Sunday happens or not, so stay tuned, and stock up on your water!