Originally: SA opposition: ‘Investigate Aristide’

ACDP leader Reverend Kenneth Meshoe was responding to allegations made by Haiti’s interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue who said the former leader has been financing the gangs involved in the latest outbreak of violence in Haiti which has left more than 30 people dead.

Mr Meshoe said if the South African government is investigating allegations that Mark Thatcher, son of the former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, was involved in plotting a coup in Equatorial Guinea, they should also investigate Mr Aristide.

The ACDP leader told BBC Caribbean Radio that the comparison between Mr Aristide and Mr Thatcher was a reasonable one.

“All allegations against senior leadership regardless of who they are have to be investigated,” he said. “The difference is not that great because a leader is expected to be a person of integrity and when serious allegations are made they should not be ignored. People must know what the real truth is.”

He said the allegations could not be ignored but that Mr Aristide must have the opportunity to respond in the correct context.

“It would be a good thing for him to respond and that is why the ACDP is calling for an investigation because when they investigate he will be given an opportunity to respond,” he said.

“If this matter is left as it is, people will come to their own conclusions which might be wrong. So it would be in the best interests of Mr Aristide for him to come forward but that should happen within the context of an investigation.”

Mr Aristide, who fled Haiti in February, was granted sanctuary by the South African government at the request of the Caribbean Community (Caricom).

The South African government recognises Mr Aristide as the legitimate leader of Haiti and regards him as a foreign guest of the state.


Last week, Mr Aristide and his wife Mildred were appointed as honorary research fellows at the University of South Africa.

The South African opposition has always been against the Mbeki administration’s decision to offer Mr Aristide and his family temporary sanctuary.

Earlier this year, Tony Leon, the leader of South Africa’s main opposition Democratic Alliance told BBC Caribbean Radio that Mr Aristide’s presence in South Africa would be inimical to the country’s democratic principles.

Mr Meshoe said he was not in favour of the South African government’s “rally around a person who is accused of human rights abuses.”

“Personally I have questioned having him in the country when people in his own country have made serious allegations,” he said. “I have said let’s get to the root of the allegations because if we do not… people are going to come to the conclusion that African leaders are protecting one another.”

The ACDP leader told BBC Caribbean Radio he was certain his party would have support in their call for an investigation into the allegations against Mr Aristide.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration on Tuesday accused pro-Aristide supporters of mounting a “systematic campaign” to destabilise Haiti’s interim government and urged the former leader to speak out against the violence.

“Groups that have been (Aristide’s) supporters have launched a systematic campaign to destabilise the interim government,” State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said.

He urged the members of the Lavalas Party to “break with the party’s legacy of violence and criminality and to cooperate with the interim government”.