KINGSTON, Jamaica – Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (search) returned to the Caribbean from African exile on Monday, after winning temporary asylum in Jamaica.
Shortly before Aristide landed on in Jamaica, Haiti's new leader recalled the country's ambassador to Kingston. Aristide supporters in Haiti demanded his return to power.
U.S. and Haitian officials had warned that Aristide's return to the region — two weeks after he reportedly fled a popular rebellion — could disrupt a fragile peace as an interim government is being installed.
Aristide arrived Friday afternoon with his wife, Mildred, at Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston, the Jamaica capital, 130 miles from Haiti. He immediately boarded a helicopter, refusing to make any comment. A Jamaican protocol officer said he was being taken to a residence of Jamaican Prime Minister P.J. Patterson (search).
Haiti's new U.S.-backed leader, interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue (search), said he was recalling the ambassador in Kingston, putting diplomatic relations with Jamaica on hold, and also reconsidering Haiti's position with the 15-member Caribbean Community, which currently is chaired by Patterson.
Jamaican officials have said Aristide will visit for only eight to 10 weeks to be reunited with his two daughters who had been sent for safety to New York City, and while he makes plans for a permanent home in exile in a third country.
Aristide arrived the day after a U.S. Marine was shot and wounded in one of his Port-au-Prince strongholds, in an ambush on a foot patrol apparently meant as revenge for the shooting of two men killed by Marines when they came under fire on Friday.
Latortue has warned that Aristide's return to the region could threaten a fragile stability. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said in a television interview that "the hope is that he will not come back into the hemisphere and complicate the situation."