Notes following Media Briefing by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide

Return to Constitutional Order

  • In 1994, who could have expected free, fair and democratic elections in South Africa with Nelson Mandela, Govan Mbeki, Oliver Tambo and other leaders and members of the ANC in jail, exile and hiding?
  • Today, in 2005, who can expect free, fair and democratic elections in Haiti with thousands of Lavalas in jail, exile and hiding?
  • To repair the tragic mistake of the 28 February 2004 kidnapping and coup d'etat and reverse the disastrous events that it unleased, the following steps must be taken:
  1. Thousands of Lavalas who are in jail and in exile must be free to return home.
  2. The repression that has already killed over 10 000 people must end immediately.
  3. Then, there must be national dialogue.
  4. Free, fair and democratic elections must be organised in an environment where the huge majority of Haitian people is neither excluded nor repressed as they have been up until today.

Their continued peaceful demonstrations calling for my return and the restoration of constitutional order must be heard. Racism should not maintain a "Black Holocause" in Haiti where African descendants proclaimed their independence 200 years ago. What a historic paradigm for all the nations.

Questions and Answers

Question Mr President, what is your response to the charging of your former Interior Minister and violence towards United Nations police in recent weeks?

Answer Repression in Haiti has killed in excess of 10 000 people - we are for peace, not violence. It is clear that what has been said is lies said to hide this repression. This is the reason it is imperative that we return to constitutional order.

Question President, a date has been set for the elections - will you be participating therein?

Answer I'm still the only elected President of Haiti, carrying the voice of eight million Haitian people. I will continue to call for an end to the repression.

Question Mr President, can you clarify why you are holding this press conference now?

Answer The United Nations has just returned from Haiti - perhaps you did not hear what the Haitian people said - they called for a return to constitutional order - not for the first time.

In this regard, it is only fair that journalists help the people of the world to understand the voice of the Haitian people.

We were free 200 years ago when we proclaimed our independence - it is important that we pay attention to the Haitian people calling for my return and return to constitutional order - 10000 people being killed in one year is too much.

Question President, what do you have against the United Nations mandate - why do you believe they will not do exactly what you are calling for?

Answer I support the United Nations mandate - I call for the release of party members, the return to constitutional order.

How can you hold free and fair elections in a country with thousands in hiding - what about those in exile.

How was it possible to hold elections in South Africa - how can it be possible in Haiti?

Repression must stop - we call for national dialogue.

Question Mr President, what will you consider to be appropriate conditions for your return to Haiti?

Answer National dialogue where the majority of the people are not excluded - I refer again to my earlier points.

Question Mr President, are you planning to participate in the forthcoming national elections?

Answer This is not the issue today - today, the issue is that we must hear the calls of the majority of the Haitian people.

Question Mr President, what is this Black Holocaust to which you refer? Who is perpetrating this?

Answer I was very happy to spend three years in Israel where I studied Hebrew, etc. I was also able to familiarise myself with what the Holocaust meant to Israel. One cannot fail to see what is happening in this black country - 10000 people have been killed in one year. The UN has just spent four days in Haiti and not listened to the people of Haiti - this is what I call a Black Holocaust.

No one is listening to the Haitian people.

Question Mr President, the Holocaust involved the killing of six million people - we are now comparing this with 10 000 and you still have not said who is perpetrating this Holocaust?

Answer Tens of thousands of people were killed in 1804 - Haiti became free in 1804. I say racism is occurring because the Haitian people are not being listened to. We should not be oblivious to the plight of the Haitian people.

You know who is perpetrating this Holocaust - the same people who were behind my kidnapping - the French, US and others.

Question Mr President, if you consider yourself the duly elected President - who is going to organise free and fair elections in Haiti?

Answer The kidnapping of 28 February 2004 has clearly failed - there has only been an increase in violence and misery in Haiti. Violence is clearly not the answer.

Today, Haitians are calling for constitutional order to be restored and repression to be decreased - these will be the conditions that enable national dialogue.

Question Mr President, under what conditions will you return to Haiti - are you preparing to return?

Answer I'm ready to return to Haiti at any time.

The conditions under which I will return - the UN is very necessary to the process although they are losing a lot of credibility based on what is happening in Haiti.

Real national dialogue is very important - I will support the process - however, national dialogue without the majority of the Haitian people is not national dialogue.

CARICOM, one year ago, called for the truth of my kidnapping - to date, no such truth is forthcoming.

The only way in which to solve the problem is to include the majority of the Haitian people.

Question Mr President, I have heard that Lavalas has been part of the violence - can you assist in putting an end to such violence?

Answer This is all false - lies to change the focus of what is important - there is a group of people using weapons but now is the time to stop lying - it is time to tell the truth and lies are a form of violence. The problem is not being solved - Lavalas is being accused.

But it is time for the truth - let's talk and end repression.

Lavalas is against any form of violence, now, in the past and in future.

Question Mr President, it has been stated categorically by people who have visited Haiti that you have been supporting and encouraging the violence in Haiti from South Africa.

Answer This is completely false.

Question Mr President, what is the South African government's view of your return to Haiti?

Answer You are welcome to ask them - but they support free, fair and democratic elections in Haiti.

South Africa, remains a compelling historic case for the world.

There must be national dialogue for elections to be held.

Question Mr President, have you made any efforts to create the conditions for your return to Haiti?

Answer What was said about a year ago is what I'm saying today - let's have dialogue - let's put violence aside - let's have dialogue. I'm open for dialogue to pave the way for constitutional order.

Question Mr President, are you not playing a race card?

Answer I respectfully disagree with you on this matter - look at Haiti 200 years ago when we became free, look at the transatlantic slave trade - millions were lost in the transatlantic slave trade.

The history of Haiti is the history of the African continent - the world has forgotten Haiti in the last 200 years.

When Haiti defeated Napolean's army, the world did not publicise this.
When we supported the United States in their fight for freedom, we did so because we believe in freedom.

The flags of Venezuela, Columbia, and Ecuado as resonate the Haitian flag - this embodies Haiti's support in their struggle for freedom - despite what we have done, the world has forgotten us.

Instead, Haiti was expected to pay for its liberation.

Slavery remains a crime against humanity - it is fair that today I speak on behalf of:

  • Freedom
  • End of repression
  • National dialogue
  • Free, fair and democratic elections.

Question Mr President, you say you speak on behalf of the Haitian people - if this is so, will you not return to Haiti?

Answer People who are mental slaves cannot be listened to. A tiny majority of people do not want me back - they are lying to hide the truth.

Question Mr President, does the Haitian constitution allow you to return?

Answer According to my constitution, which I respect, you are elected for a term of five years.

I was re-elected in 2000 - therefore my mandate ends next year - let's not focus on this because it is very clear for any who want to see it.

One cannot respect dialogue if you respect peace and not violence.

Dialogue = compromise.

When the South African government was planning to welcome me, it was clearly said that this is one way to co-operate with the United Nations and Caricom. I agreed on this basis to come to South Africa.

Now that I see that people of Haiti continued to call for my return and the restoration of constitutional order when the UN was in Haiti - the Haitian people was constitutional order, I support this because it is fair; repression must end, I support this because it is fair; I support national dialogue, I support free, fair and democratic elections because it is fair.


Issued by Department of Foreign Affairs

Private Bag X152
Pretoria
0001

19 April 2005


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