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Haitian protesters want Kerry as US president
Updated: 2004-07-29 11:27

Thousands of supporters of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide poured from Haiti's slums on Wednesday to call for Aristide's return and to support John Kerry's bid for the U.S. presidency.

The demonstrators, marching under the gaze of dozens of riot police, said they believed Kerry, the Massachusetts senator who will accept the Democratic nomination for president on Thursday, will return Aristide to the troubled Caribbean nation if he is elected in November.

They said Aristide, who was forced into exile in February by a bloody rebellion and U.S. pressure, would not return if President Bush was re-elected. They noted Aristide has also been ousted in 1991, when Bush's father was president.

"In 1991, Bush ordered the coup against Aristide. His son, George W. Bush, followed in his father's steps. If he is re-elected Aristide will not come back," said Jean Senosier, 32, a resident of the slum of Bel-Air, an Aristide stronghold.

"If Kerry, a Democrat, is elected, we know he will return Aristide, just as President Bill Clinton did in 1994."

Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest who became Haiti's first freely elected president in 1991, was exiled by an army coup for three years before being returned by U.S. military intervention in 1994.

He assumed the presidency for a second time in 2001 but was forced to flee the country on Feb. 29 in the face of an armed revolt in which more than 200 people were killed.

In a New York Times interview in March, Kerry said if he had been president he would have sent an international force to protect Aristide and criticized the Bush administration for talking about supporting democratically elected leaders while pushing Aristide from power.

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