MABE Orphanage -- Port au Prince, Haiti

MABE Orphanage -- Port au Prince, Haiti

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Race for Haiti's presidency

Yvon Neptune, former Haitian Prime
Minister and now Presidential candidate.
BBCCaribbean.com, August 23, 2010

US-based Haitian singer-songwriter Wyclef Jean was the best known of Haiti's presidential hopefuls.

But he and 14 others have now been disqualified from November's election, leaving 19 candidates in the race.

Among those approved to run for the presidency were:

•Jacques Edouard Alexis, a two-time prime minister

•Leslie Voltaire, an urban planner and former minister

•Yvon Neptune, a former prime minister who served under ex-President Jean-Bertrand Aristide

•Mirlande Manigat, a well-known opposition leader and former first lady

•Jude Celestin, the former head of the government's construction programme

•Yves Cristallin, who served as social affairs minister

•Michel Martelly, a popular Haitian singer known as "Sweet Mickey"

Under Haiti's constitution, candidates must meet seven constitutional requirements.

Main contenders

They must be a native of Haiti, be at least 35 years old, have never renounced their citizenship, have never been sentenced for a crime, own property and a "habitual residence" in Haiti, not currently be handling public funds and have resided in the country for at least five consecutive years before election day.

Mr Jean's candidacy was believed to have been rejected on the grounds that he was not resident in Haiti in the past five years.

Now that the hip hop star is out of the race, the main contenders are likely to be Mr Alexis, Mr Neptune and Mr Celestin.

Mr Alexis twice served as Prime Minister under President Rene Preval, who is barred from seeking re-election.

He was ousted in 2008 as senators blamed him for widespread riots over rising food prices.

Family ties

He was expected to receive the backing of Mr Preval's Unity party, but it chose Mr Celestin instead.

"I know Haiti's problems very well," Mr Alexis said after registering for another party, the Mobilization for Haitian Progress.

"I also know the solutions to solve these problems."

Mr Neptune was the last prime minister under ousted President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

His Ayisen pou Ayiti party is counting on sympathizers and members of Mr Aristide's Lavalas party.

Mr Neptune was accused by the interim government that succeeded Mr Aristide of orchestrating the killings of at least 25 people some two weeks before the president went into exile following an armed rebellion.

Reconstruction

He was imprisoned for more than two years without trial, fuelling allegations of political persecution.

He was released in 2006 after a hunger strike that left him emaciated and unable to stand.

He has recently been active in helping to coordinate reconstruction efforts after January's earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 people and left 1.5 million homeless.

Mr Celestin was head of the the government's road-building outfit, the Centre National des Equipments.

The company is contracted to cart away millions of cubic feet of rubble.

The presidential and legislative elections are scheduled for 28 November.

The next president is slated to oversee the spending of nearly $10 billion in reconstruction aid promised at a UN donors conference last March.

A fraction of the funding has actually been delivered.

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