Presidential elections in Haiti

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Audio Transcript:

Lisa Mullins: I'm Lisa Mullins and this is The World. Haiti holds a presidential run off on Sunday. This is an especially big endeavor in a country still struggling to recover from last years earthquake, but it's not the biggest news there. Today the former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, returned home after seven years in exile. Supporters welcomed him outside the airport. Aristide remains a popular figure in Haiti but he's a divisive one as well. The World's Amy Bracken was at the airport at Port au Prince when Aristide arrived. Amy, describe for us just what you saw.

Amy Bracken: Well actually it was pretty amazing because this is the moment that thousands of Haitians have been waiting for for the last seven years and it felt pretty calm driving into the airport. I think so many people didn't believe it would actually happen. And then it was very tightly controlled. I think that security was a major concern. There were a lot of journalists, a lot of Haitian journalists and journalists from around the world, and some special invited guests, people who Aristide had been in contact with, some close friends. So you definitely heard cheering when he arrived and it was an extremely emotional experience for Aristide and the other people on his flight to walk down the steps. There was some crying on the part of his wife and daughters and members of the crowd as well. There were a number of people afterwards who talked about how pleased they were with his return and of course since this was a very selected crowd, there were people like this. Dr. France Large who was a very old, very close friend of Aristide's who was asked to attend and felt like his return was extremely important.

Dr. France Large: I believe that it is a very good thing for Haiti. I believe that President Aristide symbolizes the dream of Haiti, of the Haitian people. So I believe that now that the President Aristide is there and things will be a little more clear for the Haitian people to decide what we really want.

Mullins: Once again, Amy, you said that was a long time friend of Jean-Bertrand Aristide's. It was a select group that was there today but throughout Haiti, how popular is this man?

Bracken: Well he's still extremely popular. I mean, you go out in the streets and it was very hard for his car to even move because it was just mobbed. Once people realized that this was actually happening there was a lot of sort of ecstatic celebrating in the streets. I mean it's hard to know quite what his popularity is because the people who aren't so excited are very quiet. So I had some quieter conversations with people on the back streets and some people would quietly say, "Well, you know my life didn't actually change at all under Aristide and so I don't think he's going to make any huge change when he gets back." It was also interesting to see, even among the people who were really excited about him coming back, there were very different interpretations about what his return meant at far as the elections that are happening that are happening on Sunday and as far as his role in the future. Some people have felt like elections really can't happen now. Aristide's a reminder of his own party that's been excluded from the vote and a reminder of the fact that we really should have a president like him rather than the people who are running. And for other people the felt like Aristide came in, he hasn't said anything specifically about the elections or the candidates, what he would really want is for us to move forward peacefully as he said and that would include just voting on Sunday and getting on with building a new government.

Mullins: Okay. Reporter Amy Bracken in Haiti. Thank you.

Bracken: Thank you, Lisa.