Aristide Loyalists Slam US


March 7, 2004

Thousands of furious supporters of exiled president Jean-Bertrand Aristide poured out of Haiti's slums and onto the streets on Friday, marching on the US embassy to denounce the "occupation" of their homeland and demand Mr Aristide's return.

The formation of a new government moved ahead with the appointment of a council of seven "wise men" charged with picking a prime minister for a transitional government.

A crowd estimated at more than 10,000 materialised suddenly, seething at Mr Aristide's flight to Africa five days ago, hurling slurs at US marines and calling President George Bush a "terrorist".

Hundreds held up their hands and shouted "Aristide five years", the rallying cry of those who wanted him to finish his term. Heavily armed US troops watched from the embassy rooftop as the crowd marched past.

"Bush terrorist! Bush terrorist!" they chanted, waving Haitian flags or in T-shirts bearing photos of Mr Aristide.

Supporters of Mr Aristide, a former Roman Catholic priest whose fiery oratory from the pulpit helped galvanise a popular revolt that dislodged the Duvalier family dictatorship in the 1980s, had been relatively quiet this week, stunned by his departure.

They had largely stayed in Cite Soleil, La Saline and other teeming Port-au-Prince slums as the armed rebels who helped push their hero from office roamed the streets, hunting for Mr Aristide's armed "chimere" supporters.

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