S.Africa to give Haiti’s Aristide red carpet welcome

JOHANNESBURG, May 30 (Reuters) – South Africa will give ousted Haiti leader Jean Bertrand Aristide a welcome reserved for heads of state when he arrives on Monday in exile, the presidency said on Sunday.

The stay would be open-ended and would last until the situation in Haiti normalises, it said in an advisory to media.

Aristide left Haiti on February 29 during an armed revolt and was flown to the Central African Republic on a flight arranged by the United States. He travelled to Jamaica to be reunited with his children and arrange exile elsewhere, and South Africa approved his asylum request two weeks ago.

“(South African) President Thabo Mbeki will officially receive President Jean Bertrand Aristide of Haiti in South Africa at Johannesburg International Airport,” the presidency said.

“On Tuesday Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr (Nkosazana) Dlamini Zuma and President Aristide will address a media briefing,” the presidency added.

Aristide and his family have been staying at a state-owned guest house northeast of Kingston while in Jamaica. They will live in a mansion in the South African capital Pretoria paid for by the government.

The offer of asylum underlines the South African government’s implicit view that the elected Aristide was unconstitutionally removed from power in a “regime change” sanctioned by U.S. President George W. Bush.

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