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THE WEEK AHEAD

PORT-AU-PRINCE : Priest Turns President

February 05, 1991

After almost two centuries of mostly tyrannical, mainly military rule, and five years of bloodshed since the end of the hated Duvalier dynasty, Haiti on Thursday inaugurates its first freely elected democratic president, a radical Roman Catholic priest.

Father Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who has pledged to become a layman when he accepts the presidential sash, promises legal steps to recover some $800 million allegedly taken by the former "President for life" Jean-Claude Duvalier when he fled Haiti exactly five years ago Thursday, ending the 29-year-old family dictatorship begun by his father, Francois (Papa Doc) Duvalier.

Aristide, the populist slum priest who won a wide following with his fiery sermons against Duvalier loyalists and United States interference in the country's affairs, has since moderated his anti-American rhetoric and received public assurances of U.S. support for his government.

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