Throughout the quake-ravaged capital, not far from the teeming slums and public plazas-turned-homeless encampments, newly erected green and white welcome home banners read: “Our mother is here already, our father is coming. We all agree.’’
The “father” refers to the pending arrival of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who is expected to return from South Africa Friday — or as early as Thursday — despite diplomatic attempts to keep him away until after Sunday’s critical presidential and legislative runoff elections.
The fluttering green and white banners — in which the word “mother” refers to presidential candidate Mirlande Manigat — shows to what extent candidates in Haiti’s historic elections are willing to go to court Aristide’s supporters, but also how relevant he remains even after seven years in exile.
“The fact that the international community fears that the mere presence of Aristide could destabilize the whole game of cards shows that it has little confidence in the solidity of Haiti’s political system,’’ said Robert Fatton, a Haiti expert at the University of Virginia. “However, I would be more anxious about the post-electoral period than the elections themselves.’’
In separate telephone calls Tuesday, President Barack Obama and United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon unsuccessfully tried to persuade South African President Jacob Zuma to delay Aristide’s return, sources told The Miami Herald.
Zuma replied he was under pressure by Aristide, who in January announced he was ready to return to Haiti at anytime. Zuma’s government then told Haitian officials to expect Aristide on Friday.
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