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#318 Aristide on Elections Reuters 082399 from Slavin (fwd)


Aristide says his party will run in Haiti election

By Jennifer Bauduy

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Aug 23 (Reuters) - Former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, 
Haiti's most influential politician, officially announced that his party will 
participate in upcoming elections, party officials said on Monday. 

``... Lavalas Family is the most powerful political organisation in the 
country... We will win the election with a landslide,'' Aristide said in a 
taped message sent to a weekend gathering of leaders from his party, Lavalas 

The announcement was interpreted as an endorsement of the impoverished 
Caribbean nation's first elections in more than two years. Voting for 
municipal and legislative had been expected in November, but has been delayed 
by government election officials for logistic reasons. 

A date for the vote has not been set. 

Seven thousand Lavalas Family members gathered in the southwestern city of 
Jeremie to prepare a party development plan. Party members chanted support 
for Aristide, their presidential candidate for December 2000 elections. 

Aristide, a charismatic former priest, became Haiti's first freely elected 
president in 1991. He was overthrown seven months later by a military coup 
and was restored to power in 1994 by a U.S.-led invasion of 20,000 foreign 

Barred by Haiti's constitution from serving consecutive terms as president, 
Aristide announced he would be the Lavalas Family's presidential candidate in 

About 400 U.S. troops and a 300-member U.N. police training mission remain 
posted in Haiti. 

President Rene Preval announced that the terms of most lawmakers except nine 
senators ended last January and began ruling by decree. He installed a new 
prime minister and Cabinet in March. 

Separately, one of the nine members of Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council, 
Ernst Mirville, and his driver were temporarily held hostage by gunmen on 
Saturday. The two men were released them unharmed, although the gunmen 
escaped with the official's car, Radio Haiti Inter reported. 

Election officials said they did not consider the incident politically 

15:28 08-23-99

Copyright 1999 Reuters Limited.