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Haiti bars Aristide allies, former rebel who helped oust him, from running for Senate

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(By Jonathan M. Katz. Feb 6) Haitian officials will not let members of ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s party or a former rebel leader compete in upcoming Senate elections, local radio reported Friday.

Radio Metropole said at least 40 of the 105 candidates who registered in January to run for 12 open seats were rejected. The election is scheduled for April 19.

Several stations published a list of approved candidates online. It was unclear why they were chosen, and electoral officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

The electoral council barricaded its headquarters this week to guard against potential protests.

Many Haitians still support Aristide, who lives in exile in South Africa but officially remains the leader of his Fanmi Lavalas Party.

In recent months, the party has split over management disputes. Rival factions submitted two separate lists of candidates – but both were apparently rejected.

Also barred under the council’s ruling is Guy Philippe, whose rebel band helped oust Aristide in 2004. He has been living in hiding and is wanted in the U.S. on drug trafficking charges.

About a third of the 30-member Senate has been vacant since early last year.

Elections were originally scheduled for late 2007, but they were postponed after President Rene Preval dissolved the electoral council amid infighting.

Food riots, parliamentary delays in replacing Preval’s ousted prime minister and a string of catastrophic hurricanes and tropical storms led to further postponements.

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