PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – Haiti’s most prominent political party said Thursday it will try again to run candidates in upcoming legislative elections after being banned in the two most recent votes.
Maryse Narcisse, a spokeswoman for the political party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, said in an interview on the privately run station Radio Kiskeya that the Lavalas Family party plans to run in the still-unscheduled vote.
“We decided to go to the elections with all our strength so that we can give the population the victory that it’s been waiting for,” Narcisse said, an apparent dig at the administration of President Michel Martelly, who has described his 2011 election as a “victory for the people.”
Officials blocked the party from elections in 2009 and 2010, saying its representative, Aristide, was not present to sign paperwork. The ex-leader had been in exile in South Africa since he was toppled in 2004 in a violent rebellion, his second ouster as president.
Aristide returned to Haiti in 2011 despite opposition from the United States and has kept a low profile since, opting to stay in his compound in the capital.
The party is Haiti’s most prominent in large part because of its ties to Aristide, a former priest admired by the poor majority but reviled by a small yet powerful elite. It also remains well known because there are few if any established political parties with the same kind of name recognition in this country of 10 million people.
The upcoming vote seeks to fill 10 seats in the 30-member Senate and scores of seats at the local level.
Haiti was supposed to hold elections in 2011. But authorities haven’t been able to agree on the composition of an electoral body that will organize the vote, the opposing sides fearful it may be stacked in the favour of others.
In the absence of the elections, the Martelly government has replaced some 130 elected municipal governments with presidential appointees, according to the United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti.
The U.N. and other International partners have rebuked Haitian officials for not holding the elections, saying Haiti risks isolation if the vote isn’t held before year’s end.