Political turmoil increased further Wednesday in Haiti, as former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide hinted he might follow former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier in returning to the country. Photo: Reuters

Political turmoil increased further Wednesday in Haiti, as former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide hinted he might follow former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier in returning to the country.

Aristide - currently exiled in South Africa - is reportedly mulling a return to the troubled Caribbean country, which has lost hundreds of thousands of lives in a massive quake and a cholera epidemic over the past year.

Aristide's return would be harder than Duvalier's arrival, however, because Haitian authorities have denied him a passport. Aristide, 57, went into exile in February 2004, amid an armed uprising at home and huge pressure from abroad for his exit.

Duvalier, 59, also known as “Baby Doc,” returned to the country Sunday, after a 25-year exile. He led the country from 1971 to 1986.

On Tuesday, he was arrested, interrogated and then released again. While no formal charges were brought against him, the courts are investigating allegations of corruption and pillaging his homeland of its public wealth.

Gervais Charles, one of Duvalier's lawyers, told Radio Metropole that his client was definitively released, not just provisionally as had been reported. The lawyer said that because of a statute of limitations Duvalier can no longer be tried for the crimes that he allegedly committed.

The former dictator allegedly stole hundreds of millions of dollars of public money during his 15-year regime. Duvalier has denied accusations of such corruption.

Duvalier cannot leave the Caribbean country and must remain at the disposal of the courts.

Haiti is immersed in a massive political crisis. No official results have been announced yet for the November 28 presidential election, amid persistent allegations of widespread corruption. A runoff originally scheduled to take place on January 16 has been postponed, but no new date has been set for it. -

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