PORT-AU-PRINCE, (AP) -- Haiti's electoral council has banned the influential party of exiled former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from next year's legislative elections.
The Fanmi Lavalas party, which remains a major party with support from the capital's urban poor, is among 17 groups barred from February's elections because they submitted improper documents. The list includes the Lespwa movement that formed around President Rene Preval when he ran for president in 2004.
Aristide, who has been living in exile in South Africa after he was overthrown during a 2004 rebellion, called the decision to eliminate Lavalas "an electoral coup d'etat." He spoke in an interview late Wednesday with Radio Solidarite.
Lespwa officials did not answer phone calls seeking comment on Thursday.
The Lavalas party boycotted Senate run-off elections in June after the council disqualified its candidates on a technicality, and was barred from 2006 presidential elections.
Lavalas executive council head Maryse Narcisse told The Associated Press on Thursday she did not understand why the party was rejected.
"We did everything that we were supposed to do," she said. "We were excluded without any reasons, and now we are waiting for an answer."
The council approved 53 parties to run in the elections. The vote is now scheduled for Feb. 28, but might be postponed to coincide with presidential elections later in the year. Rejected parties can appeal.
Haiti's legislature chose a new prime minister last week as tensions remain high over the presence of 9,000 U.N. peacekeepers, who arrived in the impoverished country after the 2004 rebellion.
Jean-Max Bellerive is the sixth prime minister to hold the post since 2004.
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