The Miami Herald
Mon, July 18, 2005

Council: Banish Aristide party

Associated Press

PORT-AU-PRINCE - A U.S.-backed advisory council that oversees Haiti's interim government recommended Saturday that ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide's political party be barred from upcoming elections, accusing the party of encouraging violence.

The seven-member Council of Sages, which picked the interim government, accused Aristide's Lavalas Family Party of promoting violence, including the slaying of a well-known Haitian journalist whose body was found with signs of torture Monday.

''Political groups who identify themselves with the Lavalas Family Party, and particularly with Mr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide, continue to promote and tolerate violence,'' the council said.

The council urged the interim government to ``make the bold political and beneficial decision to disqualify the Lavalas Family Party from the electoral process.''

But Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council indicated that all political parties would be welcome in the October and November elections.

''The election is for all political parties of Haiti,'' said electoral council spokesman Rosemond Pradel.

Lavalas is Haiti's most organized political force, with much of its support coming from sprawling slums in Port-au-Prince. Aristide was ousted in a bloody, three-week rebellion in February 2004.

Lavalas party members, who have said they will boycott the elections unless Aristide returned from exile in South Africa, have denied involvement in violence that has killed more than 700 people in the capital of Port-au-Prince since September.

Lavalas leader Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, a Roman Catholic priest who is considering running for president, said the interim government feared Aristide supporters would win