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Sun, 02.29.2004

Jean-Bertrand Aristide Flees Haiti

Jean-Bertrand Aristide

*On this date in 2004, President Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled Haiti.

He was bowing to pressure from a rebellion at home and governments out of the country. Hundreds of angry Aristide militants armed with old rifles and pistols converged on the Haitien National Palace in Port-au-Prince. It was not immediately clear who was in charge, but Aristide's Prime Minister Yvan Neptune called a news conference.

In Cap-Haitien, the northern port that has become a base for the rebels, crowds danced and sang in the street ready to disarm once a new government was in place. "Aristide's gone! Aristide's out!" rebel fighters in Cap-Haitian yelled with excitement, hugging each other. Aristide, Haiti's first democratically elected president in 200 years of independence, left the capital. The rebels were less than 25 miles away and had threatened to attack unless he resigned.

The Associated Press
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