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More unexpected guests? Exiled ex-president Aristide eyes return to Haiti

Ousted ex-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide said he desires to return to Haiti 'today, tomorrow, at any time.' 'Baby Doc' Duvalier, meanwhile, faces more criminal charges.

By Ezra FieserCorrespondent / January 20, 2011

A Jan. 15, 2010 file photo shows former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide during a press conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. Aristide sent out a letter saying he is ready to come back from six years of South African exile 'today, tomorrow, at any time.'

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Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

A bizarre political week for Haiti that started with the return of one exiled former president is ending with another exiled leader maneuvering for repatriation.

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As woes mounted for former dictator Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier – who received more criminal charges on Wednesday – ousted ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide released a statement saying he’s prepared to return to Haiti.

“As far as I am concerned, I am ready,” Mr. Aristide wrote in a statement Wednesday that his spokesperson confirmed to the Monitor was authentic. “Once again I express my readiness to leave today, tomorrow, at any time. The purpose is very clear: To contribute to serving my Haitian sisters and brothers as a simple citizen in the field of education.”

Aristide has been living in exile in South Africa since 2004, when he was flown out of Haiti in what supporters described as a US-orchestrated coup d’état. Brian Concannon, a lawyer who has worked with Aristide, told the Monitor that Aristide applied for a passport but the Haitian government has not issued one.

"He has said on several occasions that he wants to return," says Mr. Concannon, director of the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). "He needs a new passport and he's applied for it through the Haitian government. So far, they have not issued it."

Rumors are swirling that Aristide is already en route to Haiti, perhaps on a flight via Panama and Cuba. P.J. Crowley, a spokesman for the State Department, reacted to Aristide’s desire to return with a series of Twitter posts, including one that read: “We do not doubt President Aristide’s desire to help the people of Haiti. But today Haiti needs to focus on its future, not its past.”

IN PICTURES: Baby Doc returns

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