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PORT-AU-PRINCE — Appearing calm and confident, Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide Thursday dismissed the notion that his government was in trouble or that he had lost the support of his people.

”Today I am here at the Palace, it is not a gift. The vast majority of the people are with me,” Aristide said during a wide-ranging 90-minute interview in his presidential office.

Aristide pledged to hold elections next year, said that Haitian immigrants who reach Florida are economic, not political, refugees, and called on the United States to do more to curb the drug flow to his country.

But he saved his harshest criticism for the United States and the international community, saying they had essentially abandoned Haiti by not letting aid flow to his government’s projects. He argued it is the international community — and not his government — that is responsible for the turmoil in his nation.

Aristide is facing the biggest test to his leadership since the coup that sent him into exile. Amid a spiral of nationwide protests, where opponents demand his resignation and supposed supporters grow violent in his name, Aristide remains confident that he can bring peace to the nation of eight million.