The Government of Haiti has agreed to issue its exiled former President, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, with a diplomatic passport, paving the way for a return which promises to further cloud the country's political waters.

Lawyers for Aristide, who has been living in South Africa since he was ousted in a 2004 coup, were assured yesterday that Haiti's Cabinet would issue the document, should he choose to submit the necessary paperwork.

The decision removes a final hurdle preventing the left-leaning former President from carrying out his promise to return to Haiti to help the nation rebuild after the earthquake that destroyed its capital city more than a year ago.