PARIS — The West African nation of Liberia today offered permanent asylum to deposed Haitian President-for-Life Jean-Claude Duvalier, currently living in temporary exile in a hotel in the French Alps, government officials said.
A French Foreign Ministry spokesman said of the offer from the Liberian government of Samuel K. Doe, "We want to make a decision on (Duvalier's) departure as soon as possible." Other officials have said they want Duvalier out by Saturday.
In the Liberian capital of Monrovia, Foreign Minister Bernard Blamo said that as a member of the United Nations his country "believes in the right of asylum for anyone choosing to reside in our country."
Blamo said Duvalier has not requested asylum in Liberia but said the nation "will have no objection should such a request be made and forwarded to us."
Liberia is an English-speaking nation founded by former American slaves. France had been seeking a French-speaking nation for Duvalier's permanent exile.
At least three African and three European countries approached as possible refuges have so far all refused to accept the 34-year-old former president.
Duvalier fled to France on Friday from Port-au-Prince aboard a U.S. military C-141 plane with his wife and 22 other people. Three of those were Haitian police who left France on Tuesday to return to Haiti.
While searching for a country to accept him, the former president has been staying in a luxury hotel in the tiny village of Talloires in southeastern France.
In Talloires today, hotel sources said that as many as five relatives who fled with "Baby Doc" left under cover of darkness overnight but that Duvalier himself was still holed up.
Witnesses said they saw three cars, one of them laden with luggage, speeding away from a side entrance of the hotel during a small anti-Duvalier demonstration in front of the barricaded compound.
"The family is gradually getting away, but the big fish are still here," the source said, referring to Duvalier and his wife, Michele.