Desperation intensifies Aristide's return calls

A boy sits among supporters of Aristide during a demonstration in front of the Presidential Palace in Port-au-Prince. (AFP)

The burnt-out church where he once preached to the poor in a Port-au-Prince slum is in ruins, but the graffiti on its stone walls is defiant: "Titid come back," it says, "quick, quick."

Titid – known to the rest of the world as Jean-Bertrand Aristide – was forced out of Haiti six years ago, but the suffering wrought by last month's devastating earthquake has intensified calls for the return of the Catholic priest who became the country's first democratically elected president.

Such calls are due in part to frustration with President Rene Preval over his low-key response to the disaster, but also to an enduring allegiance among many of the poor to the hope Aristide once represented.

Aristide has made no secret of his want to return to his country.

 

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