By STEVENSON JACOBS
Ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide is making final preparations to leave Jamaica and take asylum in South Africa, an official said Friday.
KINGSTON, May 21 (AP) —
Although there is no firm departure date, Aristide will fly to South Africa with his wife, Mildred, and the couple’s two daughters, according to his spokesman Huntley Medley.
“He’ll be happy to leave when the arrangements are made,” Medley said, declining to elaborate.
The Jamaican government has said Aristide’s stay would not exceed 10 weeks. Since he arrived March 15, he has been staying at a government-owned villa in a rural, central area.
Aristide fled Haiti on Feb. 29 amid a spreading rebellion in the impoverished nation. Flown aboard a U.S.-supplied jet to the Central African Republic, he accused the United States of forcing him from power — a claim Washington denies. He left two weeks later for Jamaica.
South Africa agreed to give Aristide temporary asylum “until his personal situation normalizes” and he can return to Haiti. An interim government, however, has been installed and fresh elections are expected next year.
Aristide has not publicly said he intends to return to his homeland to govern.
Once in South Africa, he will live under tight security in the capital of Pretoria at government expense — a decision that has angered South African opposition groups.
The 15-member Caribbean Community, which refuses to recognize Haiti’s U.S.-backed government, has called on the Washington-based Organization of American States to investigate the circumstances of Aristide’s departure.