26/10/2005 14:01 JOHANNESBURG (AFP)
Jesse Jackson hails Aristide as Haiti's 'legitimate' leader
US civil rights leader Jesse Jackson Wednesday voiced strong support for Jean-Bertrand Aristide after meeting with the ousted Haitian leader, saying he was a "legitimate" president who had been overthrown by Washington.
"The people did not remove him, the US government removed him," Jackson told reporters after meeting with South Africa's anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela.
"He did not finish his term. He was a legitimate democratic elected leader," said Jackson, who met Aristide on Tuesday.
"I've known him for a long time," he said, adding: "We regard him as a democrat."
Aristide swept to power in Haiti in 1990, only to be overthrown in a coup eight months later. With backing from the United States, he returne
d to power in 1994 but fell from grace amid claims of vote-rigging in the 2000 elections and political violence.
Faced with an armed insurrection and large street protests, Aristide bowed to pressure from the United States, France and Canada and fled Haiti on February 29 last year. He has been living in exile in South Africa since May 31 with his wife and two daughters.