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25943: (news) Chamberlain: Aristide party faction to run in Haiti elections (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Aug 9 (Reuters) - A moderate faction of ousted
Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's party has registered for general
elections later this year, but it was unclear whether its radical members
The country's electoral officials also said on Tuesday that local
government elections, due to be held on Oct. 9, would be postponed -- a
sign of the troubles that Haiti faces organizing a vote amid political and
gang violence that has killed some 900 people since September.
But officials refused to delay legislative and presidential elections
in November, which are seen by the United Nations as key to restoring
Aristide, a former priest credited with helping to end the Duvalier
dictatorship, was ousted in February 2004 by an armed revolt, facing
growing accusations of corruption and despotism and pressure from the
United States and France to quit.
But many of Haiti's poor masses still support him and the country has
been riven by violence since he fled, despite the presence of around 7,500
U.N. peacekeepers and police.
A win by his Lavalas Family party could be embarrassing for
Washington, which spearheaded international opposition to Aristide. A
victory would open the way for Aristide to return to Haiti.
"We registered to participate in the election, which we will win, in
order to end the political persecutions, arbitrary arrests and detentions
and the summary executions our members and sympathizers have been subject
to," Rudy Herivaux, a spokesman for the Lavalas faction, said.
"It would have been totally absurd of us to refuse to participate in
an election we can win," Herivaux told Reuters, saying victory would allow
for the return of all political exiles, including Aristide, who is in South
Members of the moderate faction within Lavalas, led by former senator
Yvon Feuille and others, said the decision to run in the election was not
unanimous. But they are in discussion with more radical factions of Lavalas
that have refused to participate unless Aristide is allowed to return.
Leaders of the radical group within Lavalas said they would meet on
Wednesday to decide their position.
U.N. representative Juan Gabriel Valdes welcomed the decision for the
Lavalas to run, and warned that any attempt to prevent anyone from
participating in the elections would not be tolerated.
The legislative and presidential elections are set for Nov. 13, with a
runoff on Dec. 18.
According to the latest figures released by the Electoral Council, 1.7
million out of Haiti's 4.5 million eligible voters have registered for the