CAPE TOWN, South Africa – Ousted Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide (search) has officially asked South Africa (search) for asylum until his personal situation "normalizes," the Foreign Affairs Ministry said Monday.
The ministry said in a statement that the request was made through the Caribbean Economic Community, or CARICOM, and Mozambique President Joaquin Chissano (search), who is the chairman of the African union.
Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said that she will take the request to the newly appointed Cabinet, which will conduct its first meeting later this week.
The South African government has always maintained that its approach to the Haitian question will be guided by the views and attitude of CARICOM and the African Union, she said in a statement.
Aristide's spokesman in Jamaica, Huntley Medley, declined to comment on the report.
The opposition Democratic Alliance party called the request "inappropriate."
"No other 'visitor' to South Africa would receive such 'personal' attention. Aristide's dilemma is not simply 'personal.' It is first and foremost a political matter," party spokesman Douglas Gibson said.
The request is the first official indication that Aristide intends to come to South Africa and follows months of speculation as to where he will seek refuge.
Aristide was ousted from power on Feb. 29 after a three-week armed revolt in the island nation.
He and his wife, Mildred, arrived in Jamaica on March 15 after a brief stay in the Central African Republic.
He has accused the United States of forcibly removing him from office. U.S. officials deny the charge.
Jamaica's decision to host Aristide angered the United States and Haiti's U.S.-back interim government, which said his return to the region could destabilize Haiti, just 100 miles to the east.