- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 14, 2009

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI (AP) - A U.N. Security Council delegation praised the party of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide on Saturday for fighting to overturn the disqualification of its Senate candidates, saying it could help avert a potentially dangerous crisis.

Haiti’s provisional electoral council has barred Aristide’s Fanmi Lavalas party from participating in next month’s Senate elections for largely technical reasons, angering supporters who have threatened to sabotage the vote. Observers fear the council’s decision could lead to violence.

On Saturday, the U.N. delegation held separate meetings with the electoral council and political parties including Lavalas as part of a four-day visit to the desperately poor Caribbean nation.

“The country cannot allow a political crisis,” said Jorge Urbina, Costa Rica’s representative to the United Nations, who spoke for the delegation at a news conference. “All members of the council were glad to hear from (Lavalas) that they are using every legal instrument in their power to reverse this decision.”

Elections for 12 of the Senate’s 30 seats originally were scheduled for late 2007. But they have been repeatedly delayed by riots, hurricanes and infighting on a previous electoral council, which President Rene Preval ultimately dissolved. As a result, one-third of the Senate has been vacant since last year.

The trouble with the Lavalas slate owes to divisions between two rival factions that split over the party’s direction after Aristide was ousted by a rebellion in 2004. Each faction submitted its own, separate list of candidates. Both were rejected because of a failure to produce documents signed by Aristide, who lives in South Africa.

Lavalas executive council head Maryse Narcisse said legal appeals are continuing and candidates from one Lavalas slate will begin campaigning as scheduled on Monday.

Also Saturday, protesters clashed with police in the Central Plateau town of Cornillon to prevent the seating of a local elections board, leading the area’s representative in parliament to call for the elections to again be postponed, Radio Kiskeya reported.

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