JOHANNESBURG — Jean-Bertrand Aristide, ousted president of Haiti, will return within days to his homeland, ending seven years in exile, a South African official said yesterday. The former slum priest remains hugely popular, and his return could disrupt an election this month in his earthquake-ravaged country.
In Haiti, an official with Aristide’s Lavalas Party confirmed that his “return is imminent,’’ but declined to say how or when he’s coming back.
“It’s an important event for the people in Haiti because they have waited so long for this,’’ said Maryse Narcisse, the head of Lavalas’s executive council. “He will not be traveling incognito. People will know he is coming.’’
The party has been barred from taking part in the vote, and thousands of his supporters marched last month, threatening to disrupt the election if he is not allowed to return. Many said they would boycott the March 20 runoff to a disputed presidential vote because any election excluding Lavalas is not valid.
Yesterday, US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, “This is a matter for the government of Haiti.’’