The Obama administration says ex-Haitian president Jean-Bertrand Aristide risks destabilizing Haiti if he returns from exile ahead of a presidential runoff vote Sunday.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner acknowledged Aristide's right to return from South Africa. But he said returning this week "can only be seen as a conscious choice to impact Haiti's elections."
Toner urged Aristide to "delay his return until after the electoral process has concluded to permit the Haitian people to cast their ballots in a peaceful atmosphere."
A South African official last week said Aristide planned to return within days.
The former slum priest was Haiti's first democratically elected president and remains popular with the poor.
Aristide fled Haiti in 2004 on a U.S. plane. He accused U.S. diplomats of kidnapping him. Washington denies the charge.