Duvalier Meets With Advisers as Haiti Holds Its Breath

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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — One year after Haiti was hit by a devastating earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people, the country grappled on Monday to absorb yet another potentially destabilizing blow: the surprising return of the former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier, whose emergence from nearly a quarter-century in exile prompted condemnations from around the world and ignited new fears of conflict.

Mr. Duvalier, known as Baby Doc, returned to Haiti 24 years and 11 months after he was forced to flee the country by a tide of social upheaval driven by severe poverty and his regime’s brutal political repression. In a brief radio interview, Mr. Duvalier said he had returned only to help his country, not to get involved in politics. He spent the rest of his first day back in Haiti out of the public eye, huddled with his advisers and relatives at a high-end hotel in the mountains overlooking Port-au-Prince, the capital.

His silence left Haitians and the rest of the world to wonder what Mr. Duvalier was really up to.

Neither France, which had granted Mr. Duvalier asylum, nor the United States, Haiti’s largest benefactor, said they had anything to do with his return. In fact, both governments said they had been unaware that Mr. Duvalier had left Paris until his flight was close to landing in Port-au-Prince....

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