While a judge is investigating allegations of crimes committed during his 15-year rule, former Duvalier supporters are among the close advisers of President-elect Michel Martelly, The Miami Herald reported Monday. Martelly, formerly a popular singer, has suggested amnesty for Duvalier as well as Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the priest-turned-president who was exiled twice.
Duvalier, 59, who returned to Haiti about four months ago as the poverty-mired Caribbean island nation struggles to recover from a massive 2010 earthquake, shrugs off ties to Martelly.
"I did not send them and they are not there as Duvalieriests," he said.
The former president is under house arrest, albeit in a comfortable borrowed house in the hills above Port-au-Prince. He has been spotted in fashionable restaurants, and Dr. Nichole Magloire, who spent time in prison under Duvalier, said she left quickly in anger when she saw him at a Petionville restaurant drinking wine, listening to jazz and shaking hands with other diners.
"The phone is ringing all of the time and I'm receiving a lot of visitors,'' Duvalier told the Herald, describing a typical day in the life of Haiti's former president-for-life.
Duvalier, 59, became president at the age of 19 when his father, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier, died. He was forced out amidst a popular revolt and under pressure from the United States.
The Swiss government announced plans last week to transfer $6.7 million in frozen assets to the government of Haiti. Duvalier is expected to fight that, the Herald said.