Jean-Claude “Baby Doc” Duvalier, the former Haitian president who was ousted by popular revolt 25 years ago, is back in the Caribbean island nation.
Accompanied by his partner Veronique Roy, the 59-year-old arrived in Port-au-Prince from France Sunday night, simply telling reporters, “I’ve come to help.”
Roy told reporters that Duvalier kissed the ground when he got off the plane, declaring “Haiti my country, the country of Dessalines,” Haiti Libre reported.
The ex-dictator was appointed president for life upon the 1971 death of his father, Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier, who ruled from 1957.
He was overthrown by a popular uprising and exiled to France in 1986 after he and his supporters were accused of stealing tens of millions of dollars from state funds.
The unexpected return comes as Haiti, still battered by last year’s devastating earthquake, struggles with a cholera outbreak and a controversial Nov. 28 presidential election that still hasn’t been resolved.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch condemned Duvalier’s return and urged Haiti to arrest and prosecute him.
“Duvalier’s return to Haiti should be for one purpose only: to face justice,” said Jose Miguel Vivanco, the Americas director of Human Rights Watch, according to Al Jazeera.
“Under the presidency of Duvalier and his Tonton Macoutes, thousands were killed and tortured, and hundreds of thousands of Haitians fled into exile. His time to be held accountable is long overdue.
“Haiti has enough troubles without Duvalier. Duvalier’s presence — unless he is immediately arrested — is a slap in the face to a people which has already suffered so much.”
President Rene Preval said in 2007 that Duvalier would be held accountable for his crimes were he to return.