Jean-Bertrand Aristide (AP file Photo)

Haiti's president-elect, René Préval, says he's ready to end the exile of the country's former president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Préval, who was once a protegé of Aristide, said Wednesday that Haiti's constitution would permit the return of the ousted former leader.

"Article 41 of the Haitian Constitution says that no Haitian needs a visa to enter or leave the country," he said, adding that there is no exception to cover cases like that of Aristide.

Aristide was forced to flee to South Africa following a violent rebellion two years ago. He said he's ready to end his exile but that the timing is up to Préval.

The United States and other countries have warned that the return of Aristide could further destabilize Haiti.


Haiti's president-elect, René Préval. (AP file Photo)

On Feb. 16, Préval was finally declared the winner of Haiti's presidential election, held on Feb. 7, after accusing ballot counters of "possibly gigantic fraud."

Préval's supporters, many of whom had backed Aristide before his flight into exile, had threatened to stage violent protests throughout the country unless Haiti's interim government and the electoral council confirmed their candidate's victory.

Aristide stepped aside in 1996 because Haiti's constitution bans the president from holding consecutive terms. Préval, a prominent ally of Aristide, was then elected as president for a five-year term.