Voodoo a religion in Haiti

The government of Haiti has recognised Voodoo as a religion, President Jean-Bertrand Aristede announced Monday in celebration of a Haitian independence fighter.

Aristede, in commemorating the 200th death day of national hero Toussaint L'Ouverture, paid tribute to the leader of African slaves who rebelled against the French colonial government. In 1802, he was taken to France, where he died in prison in 1803.

Later that year, rebels overthrew Napoleon's troops and declared independence early in 1804, the first Latin American and Caribbean country to do so.

Voodoo is practiced by three quarters of Haiti's 8 million citizens - an observance that mixes Christian elements with worship of gods of nature. Voodoo was forbidden during the colonial times, and the new government also suppressed its practice.