South Florida Sun-Sentinel
March 1, 2004

U.S. activist claims Aristide kidnapped at gunpoint by U.S. troops

Associated Press

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts and Nevis -- An African-American activist says former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide telephoned him Monday to say that he was kidnapped at gunpoint by American soldiers and ousted by in U.S. coup d'etat.

Aristide said he was being held prisoner at the Renaissance Palace in Bangui, Central African Republic, said Randall Robinson.

The United States has said that it facilitated Aristide's departure at his request. White House spokesman Scott McClellan called the claim ``complete nonsense.''

``It was Mr. Aristide's decision to resign,'' he said.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld also said the Haitian leader left the country of his own accord.

``The idea that someone was abducted is just totally inconsistent with everything I heard or saw,'' Rumsfeld said.

Robinson spawned the series of denials be saying Aristide was a coup victim.

``He asked that I tell the word that it is a coup. That he was abducted by American soldiers and put aboard a plane,'' said Robinson, the founder and former president of the TransAfrica lobbying forum in Washington D.C. Robinson currently lives on the Caribbean island of St. Kitts.

Robinson said Aristide claimed he was being held prisoner in the Central African Republic at a building surrounded by soldiers.

There were indeed soldiers around the palace where Aristide is staying in Bangui.

The Central African Republic's government on Monday released a video showing Aristide descending from the plane. There were no military present and Aristide looked tired, but not scared.

A Caribbean official who said Aristide called him from a refueling stop in Antigua said only that Aristide had said he was heading to South Africa. The official did not mention any claim that Aristide had been kidnapped.

Aristide also did not say anything about the charges when he spoke in comments Monday broadcast on the Central African Republic's state radio.

Randall said Aristide called him from a cellular telephone that a sympathizer had given him.

He said Aristide said he was being held along with his wife, Mildred Trouillot Aristide, and his sister's husband.

Copyright © 2004