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Saturday, 12 August, 2000, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
Reform party splits deepens
Ezola Foster and Pat Buchanan
White House hopefuls: Foster and Buchanan
Despite an open split in his Reform Party, the right-wing US politician Pat Buchanan has been preparing to give a speech to accept nomination as his party's candidate for the White House.

On Friday, Mr Buchanan won the party's primary contest, but another faction has refused to endorse him and has nominated John Hagelin, a virtual unknown, as its candidate.

Earlier, Mr Buchanan chose a black teacher, Ezola Foster, as his running mate for this November's presidential election.

The two factions, which are holding parallel conventions in Long Beach, California, are right to $12.5m in federal election aid.

Conservative activist

Vote counting
Mr Buchanan won 63 % of the vote

Ms Foster, a conservative political activist, has been a member of both the Republican and Democratic parties and is a fierce opponent of illegal immigration.

A 62-year-old mother of three, she is the founder of an organisation called Black-Americans for Family Values.

It has campaigned against such issues as allowing references to homosexuality in public schools and the use of government money to promote safe sex anti-Aids programmes.

"She is a lady who does not cut her conscience to fit this year's fashion," Mr Buchanan said in announcing the choice.

"She has stood up for flag and family, God and country, her whole life. She is a life-long Christian."

Third force

In the vote on Friday, Reform Party officials said that Mr Buchanan beat Mr Hagelin by 49,529 votes to 28,539.

Supporters of John Hagelin
One faction favour nuclear physicist John Hagelin

Supporters of Mr Hagelin - a nuclear physicist - immediately dismissed the ballot as meaningless, accusing Mr Buchanan of encouraging people who are not Reform Party members to vote for him.

The Reform party - which started out as a mix of conservatives, leftists and libertarians - was the third force in American politics in the last decade.

But the party's level of support has fallen far below the 19% it secured in the 1992 election under its founder, the multi-millionaire businessman, Ross Perot.

No threat

Analysts say it no longer poses a significant threat to the two main parties, the Democrats and the Republicans.

The two factions now appear so divided that it may be down to federal officials, and eventually a court, to decide on the outcome of the twin nominations.

Mr Buchanan, who left the Republican party last year, antagonised some of his opponents at the Long Beach convention with statements denouncing "social and moral decline and cultural decadence."

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See also:

11 Aug 00 | Americas
Buchanan chooses running mate
09 Aug 00 | Americas
US Reform Party faces split
10 Aug 00 | US Elections
Reform Party pulled right
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