Aristide with his wife, Mildred, appealed for peace on Haiti Monday during a news conference in the Central African Republic.
BANGUI, Central African Republic (CNN) — In his first news conference since leaving office, exiled Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide appealed for peace Monday in his strife-ridden country, saying he remained its democratically elected leader who was “politically abducted” by “the U.S. military and other foreign military.”
Aristide spoke a day after witnesses said at least four people were killed in protests against him in the streets of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince.
Seated with his wife, Mildred Trouillot Aristide, the former president appeared to speak openly.
“In order for peace to reign, one must speak the truth, and that is why I have spoken of a political abduction,” Aristide said. ” … Far from my own country, but in deep communion with all Haitians, including Haitians abroad, I continue to launch an appeal for peaceful resistance.”
U.S. officials have dismissed Aristide’s assertion, saying he voluntarily left Haiti after being told rebel opponents would likely kill thousands of Haitians if he did not resign and flee the country.
Aristide answered reporters’ questions after his remarks, telling them he intended to stay in the Central African Republic for the time being.
The Aristides have been in an apartment on the grounds of the president’s mansion in that country since March 1 when they were whisked away from Port-au-Prince.
“I was never a prisoner here,” he said. “I have been extremely welcomed here. However on the 28th of February, I was a prisoner.”
Using the words “peace” or “peaceful” 30 times in his five-minute address, Aristide said his “political abduction” had breached the peace and disrupted “the constitutional order.”
“Before the elections of the year 2000 which led me for the second time to the National Palace in Haiti, I had talked about peace,” Aristide said. “And throughout in the National Palace, throughout my tenure, I talked about peace. And today I continue to talk about peace.”
Shortly after his departure from Haiti, Aristide telephoned two members of the U.S. House of Representatives, telling the lawmakers that the United States had abducted him.
U.S. officials have dismissed Aristide’s kidnapping allegations as “nonsense.” They say Aristide left of his own volition after they told him U.S. authorities could not guarantee the security of his family or his countrymen should the rebels enter the capital.
On Monday, Aristide thanked the Caribbean Community, Central African Republic, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan and supporters in the United States and elsewhere, expressing his wish that “one day the constitutional order might be restored in Haiti by the democratically elected president and that remains me.”
But the “political abduction … paved the way” for Haiti’s occupation by foreign militaries, he said.
While noting that those militaries are in Haiti ostensibly to protect peace, Aristide said he “can’t forget what has been done by the U.S. military and other foreign military who kidnapped me on the 28th of February.”
Foreign soldiers had come down on the side of armed rebels that he described as “terrorists and drug dealers” and “thugs and murderers.”
“I would like to launch an appeal to the international community to ensure that the rule of law be kept and the immediate arrest of these drug deals and others who are planning the murder of many Haitians and others who continue to preach violence where what we need is peace,” Aristide said.
“If we wish to maintain peace, then we cannot accept that impunity be provided to these international criminals and drug dealers.”
CNN’s Lucia Newman in Haiti and Jeff Koinange in the Central African Republic contributed to this report.