Haiti`s `Baby Doc` hopes to run for presidency

Ex-dictator`s lawyer confirms the former leader planned to stay in Haiti.

Port-au-Prince: More than two decades after being ousted from power, ex-dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier aims to profit from Haiti`s turmoil to recapture the presidency, an aide has said.

The news came as Duvalier`s lawyer confirmed the former leader, who returned from exile amid political upheaval following disputed elections, planned to stay in the Caribbean nation he once ruled with an iron fist.

"We need to shake everything up so that the elections are annulled and new elections are held in which Duvalier can run," Henry Robert Sterlin, a former Haitian ambassador to France, said.

"Then Bingo," he would be re-elected, added Sterlin, who presented himself as the spokesman for Duvalier, once dubbed "president for life" until he was ousted by a popular uprising against his brutal rule in 1986.

Duvalier`s surprise return late Sunday has stoked further turmoil here, as Haiti struggles to recover from a devastating earthquake and resolve a political crisis triggered by tainted November Presidential Elections.

"He will stay in Haiti forever, it`s his country. And take part in politics. That`s his right. A politician never dies," said his lawyer Reynold Georges, adding that Duvalier was preparing to move back into his old house.

Memories of Duvalier`s repressive 1971-1986 regime remain strong, and human rights groups have accused him and his late father, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, of presiding over decades of unparalleled oppression and abuse.

On Tuesday, prosecutors charged him with corruption, embezzlement of millions of dollars from state funds and criminal association.

And in a new legal challenge, four Haitians, including a prominent journalist, filed criminal suits against him alleging crimes against humanity.

"We have lodged lawsuits for arbitrary detention, exile, destruction of private property, torture and moral violation of civil and political rights," said Michele Montas, former spokeswoman for UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

In another potential twist, former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, currently in South Africa, said he too was ready to return at any time, although he may not have a valid passport.

Aristide, Haiti`s first democratically elected leader, served two stints as president before being forced to flee after a popular revolt in 2004 -- like his sworn enemy Duvalier 18 years earlier, aboard a US Air Force plane.

Bureau Report

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