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Ex-president Aristide returns home to cheers

Former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide returned to Haiti yesterday, ending seven years of exile in South Africa and ignoring US opposition to a homecoming some fear could disrupt Haiti's presidential election run-off tomorrow.

Supporters cheered at Port-au-Prince airport as a smiling, delighted Mr Aristide, accompanied by his family and US actor and rights activist Danny Glover, emerged from the charter plane that brought him home.

Mr Aristide said he had come back to make "a small contribution" to his country, which is struggling to recover from last year's devastating earthquake that killed more than 300,000 people and set back development in one of the world's poorest states.

Mr Aristide, 57, who was ousted from power in 2004 through an armed rebellion, is a divisive figure in Haiti – very popular among the poor but reviled by business leaders.