To recover from the catastrophic earthquake in January, Haiti needs more than the help of the world. It needs strong leadership of its own. But it’s becoming clear, as the November election draws near, that picking a president may be as difficult a task as clearing the rubble.
For those in Haiti and in Haitian diaspora communities, such as our growing one on Long Island, the latest news is distressing. Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council has rejected the presidential candidacy of hip-hop singer Wyclef Jean.
Despite Jean’s lack of political experience and his many years of living in the United States, some feel he’d give Haiti new visibility. In any case, his popularity is symbolic of the yearning for leadership, and his exclusion is hardly unique.
Lavalas, the party of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, is excluded. And the process is broken. The constitution prescribes a decentralized way of choosing the electoral council, but this council is a creation of outgoing President René Préval, who’s not running. Other concerns: The earthquake postponed elections set for early this year, crippling the legislative branch until after this November’s vote. And thousands of potential voters have no home, no address.
So, if Haiti is to get the bold leadership it needs to be a full partner with the global community in its own recovery, world leaders must press Préval to deliver a fair and well-run election. Haiti has so little. It deserves at least that.
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