US `surprised` at return of ex-Haiti dictator

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 21:13

Washington: The United States admitted it
was "surprised" at ex-dictator Jean-Claude "Baby Doc"
Duvalier`s return to Haiti after 25 years in exile, a State
Department spokesman has said.

The former tyrant was holed up in a luxury Port-au-
Prince hotel after arriving back in the country late Sunday,
with observers wondering the purpose of his return in the wake
of a contested election.

"We are surprised by the timing of Duvalier`s visit to
Haiti. It adds unpredictability at an uncertain time in
Haiti`s election process," State Department spokesman Philip
Crowley said in a post to blogging site Twitter.

Haiti is wrestling with the results of November 28
elections that sparked deadly riots after allegations of vote-
rigging against ruling party candidate Jude Celestin, the
favorite of President Rene Preval.

International monitors have called on Celestin to step
aside in favor of opposition candidate Michel Martelly for the
second round of voting -- a date for which has yet to be set.

The frontrunner remains former first lady Mirlande
Manigat, and it was unclear what impact Duvalier`s return
would have on the impasse.

Human rights groups have called for Duvalier to face
trial, despite the justice system is in tatters after last
year`s catastrophic earthquake and many Haitians are too young
to remember his oppressive 1971-1986 rule.

Duvalier`s re-emergence has fueled speculation other
political leaders from Haiti`s tumultuous past may try to
return, including Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who has repeatedly
expressed a wish to go back.

Crowley added, however, that the United States was
"not aware of any plans for former President Aristide to
travel" to Haiti.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, January 18, 2011 - 21:13

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