The people of Haiti voted for Jean-Bertrand Aristide for president because his radical rhetoric promised a clean break from the Duvalierist past. They voted against the thugs of the Tontons Macoute, who enforced the Duvalier family dictatorship for 29 years ending in 1986 and still claim power and privilege. They voted against despair in the hemisphere's poorest country. They voted for hope, and for more hope than other decent candidates among the 11 could promise.
Four days after the election, with no more than 15 percent of the vote officially counted (in which he had a commanding 65 percent), the United States and France had declared Father Aristide the victor. He remained silent, but his party co-leader, Evans Paul, came forward. Yes, Mr. Paul thinks Father Aristide won the presidency without the need for a run-off election. No, he does not think their party won a majority of the 110-seat national assembly. It will seek coalition.
Father Aristide is prepared to quit the priesthood to govern if the Vatican so wishes. He was booted out of his order for espousing liberation theology, with its revolutionary implications. He is only 37, shy and retiring, but turns to fire when exhorting the people to claim the freedom and justice to which they are entitled. Small wonder the forces that tried to assassinate him in the past swore not to let him come to power now. Father Aristide's apparent landslide support should intimidate the army from preventing his accession. The people would not stand for that.