Latin America & Caribbean

Duvalier in Haiti: 'Baby Doc' calls for reconciliation

Jean-Claude Duvalier speaking at a news conference on 21 January 2011
Image caption Mr Duvalier said he wanted to show his solidarity by returning to Haiti

Former Haitian leader Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier has called for national reconciliation in his most extensive speech since he returned to the country on Sunday after 25 years in exile.

He said his surprise return had been prompted by last year's earthquake and his desire to help rebuild the country.

Mr Duvalier also wanted "to express deep sorrow for all those who say they were victims of my government".

He is being sued for torture and other crimes against humanity.

The lawsuit was filed on Wednesday by a former United Nations spokeswoman, Michele Montas, and three Haitians who were jailed during Mr Duvalier's 1971-1986 rule.

Ms Montas said she had lodged lawsuits for arbitrary detention, exile, destruction of private property, torture and moral violation of civil and political rights.

Political future?

State prosecutors have also charged Mr Duvalier with theft and misappropriation of funds during his time as president-for-life.

One of his lawyers said he was planning to stay in Haiti despite the charges, and might also get involved in politics.

Speaking in French and Creole at a news conference in a rented guest house, Mr Duvalier said he hoped for a rapid resolution to the political crisis in Haiti.

He arrived on the day Haiti was supposed to hold a second round of elections to choose a successor to outgoing President Rene Preval.

That vote has been postponed because of a dispute over which candidates should be on the ballot paper.

Provisional results from the first round on 28 November provoked violent demonstrations when they were announced, and most observers said there was widespread fraud and intimidation.