Jean-Bertrand Aristide accompanied by a soldier to a news conference in Central African Republic
Aristide faced mounting civil unrest and opposition calls to go

In his first public appearance since he left for exile in Africa, Mr Aristide called for “peaceful resistance” and the restoration of democracy in Haiti.

He was speaking a day after six people died in violence blamed on Aristide loyalists. US troops later said they killed one of the six – a gunman.

Looting and attacks on cars near the main airport were reported on Monday.

More than 1,000 people were involved in looting a warehouse complex next to Port-au-Prince Airport.

Passing cars were being stopped and occupants harassed; armed men were said to be among the crowd.

Mr Aristide appeared at a press conference in Bangui, capital of the Central African Republic (CAR), on Monday – a week after arriving there from Haiti. His wife, Mildred, was also present but did not speak to reporters.

Some analysts say his appearance was an attempt by Mr Aristide’s hosts to quash reports that he was being held a virtual prisoner.

Mr Aristide told the BBC he was being well treated in the CAR. “Fortunately here they are gracious with us. They are really treating us the right way.”

In the interview with the World at One programme, Mr Aristide also repeated claims that he had in effect been forcibly removed from Haiti by the US.

“In one word it was a kidnapping… You can say coup d’etat.”

The US – which helped restore Mr Aristide to power in 1994 after he was ousted – has strenuously rejected his claims.

Peacekeepers deployed

In Sunday’s violence, gunmen opened fire on a crowd of 10,000 people who had gathered in Port-au-Prince to celebrate Mr Aristide’s downfall.

Witnesses said pro-Aristide gunmen known as Chimeres had come out of the slums around the square and opened fire from buildings or the top of a hill.

Protest in Port-au-Prince
Marchers have blamed Aristide’s “Chimere” militias for the shooting

Shots rang out and panic struck as crowds were packed into the city’s central square were dancing to the music of a disc jockey banned under Mr Aristide.

A US spokesman said on Monday that one of the six people killed was shot by US marines who were returning fire at gunmen.

US and French troops had been at the march, in an effort to prevent clashes between the two groups.

A Spanish television journalist, Ricardo Ortega, was among those killed.

Mr Aristide’s supporters were also said to be planning to march in Port-au-Prince on Monday.


The 2,500 French and US peacekeepers – who have arrived in Haiti in recent days – had restored order in central Port-au-Prince but have avoided outlying slums where Mr Aristide has many supporters.

Major Richard Crusan of the US marines told the BBC World Service that they did respond during the unrest to secure a building thought to have contained gunmen.

“It was pretty chaotic,” he told the World Today programme, saying that some semblance of order was soon restored.

“Our main concern was the stability and the security of the area. We’re here to assist and support the Haitian national police in getting back to an ability to control Haiti right now.”

Earlier in the day, the anti-Aristide crowds tore down a billboard featuring the ousted president’s face, carried it to the presidential palace and set it on fire.

Some demonstrators also demanded that the former president should be put on trial.