February 22, 2006.

Haiti’s president-elect said his one-time mentor, ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, could come back in the country if he wanted, and promised to restore security and order to stimulate private investments in the impoverished Caribbean nation.

Rene Preval said Aristide, who is living in exile in South Africa, could return to his country because the constitution bans exile.

The constitution provides that no Haitian needs a visa to leave the country or to come back to the country, Preval stated.

As to whether President Aristide will be involved in politics or will go to teach, that’s a question you should address to him, not to me, Preval told journalists during his first news conference since he was declared the winner almost a week ago. In a statement on Tuesday  February 21, Aristide said he would be back to Haiti soon.

Aristide fled the country on  February 29, 2004, in the face of a bloody armed revolt and under United States and French pressure to quit.

Preval ensured his administration would create a secure environment to encourage private investments in order to create jobs and opportunities for the Haitian population.

He declined to comment on the formation of the next government, saying he had to wait for the configuration.

According to the constitution, the party that holds the majority in parliament will pick the prime minister and form the government.

A run-off election for the legislative branch is scheduled to take place on 19 March.

Preval encouraged Haitians to turn out massively to elect parliamentarians whose support will be crucial for the implementation of his plans.

It is parliament which will approve the prime minister and it is the prime minister who names all the functionaries in the public administration, explained Preval as to show how determining the legislative election can be.

About the security in the country, particularly in dangerous places such as the slum of Cite Soleil, Preval said military action could not solve the problem.

I’m convinced that the problem cannot be solved militarily because it would have already been solved. We had US troops, we had French and Canadian troops on the territory. The military could not solve it, he said.

You have UN troops with armoured vehicles who are here for a while now. They can’t solve it. I think the problem should be addressed in its complexity considering the social and economic aspect, the disarmament and rehabilitation and the criminal aspect, he said.

He promised to discuss with different groups to find a solution through dialogue.

Preval is due to take office on 29 March.