Haiti ex-leader Aristide makes rare outing to back candidate

Presidential candidate from the Famni Lavalas party, Marysse Narcisse, takes a campaign drive with former president Jean Bertrand Aristide in in Port-au-Prince, Haiti on August 29, 2016 (AFP Photo/Hector Retamal) (AFP/File)
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Port-au-Prince (AFP) - Former Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide made a rare public appearance to support his party's presidential candidate.

"All of Haiti's children must give a hand to help heal our country," said Aristide, who returned to Haiti in 2011 after being ousted in a coup seven years earlier.

Speaking in Creole with his signature use of metaphor, the former shantytown priest said he and candidate Maryse Narcisse were "bringing the strength of our dignity."

When he first returned to Haiti after his lengthy exile in South Africa, the man nicknamed "Titid" declared he had called it quits with politics.

But in October last year, he urged supporters to back Famni Lavalas, his party's candidate at the time.

During his latest political outing, he waved from the opening of his car's sunroof to thousands of supporters following his motorcade.

"This is a very important moment," supporter Pierre Glatson Julien said.

"This morning, he deemed it was necessary to come out, and he is also going to travel through the country's 10 departments to help elect Maryse Narcisse so we can end social injustice here."

But Narcisse did not confirm to reporters that the ex-president would stay involved in her campaign.

During last year's October 25 vote, ruling party candidate Jovenel Moise was first with 32.76 percent support. Narcisse landed in fourth place, with just 7.05 percent of the vote.

Challenged by the opposition after an independent commission concluded the vote had been plagued by "massive fraud," the government annulled the results and called for a fresh presidential election.

Nearly 6.2 million voters are eligible to cast their ballots on October 9 in the first round of the presidential election as well as a legislative vote.

The presidential election's second round is scheduled for January 8.

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