Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Haiti needs a credible election

Newsday Editorial 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 […]

Wyclef Jean Barred From Haiti Election

By Deborah Sontag, New York Times Haiti’s electoral council announced late Friday evening that Wyclef Jean, the Haitian-born hip-hop star, had been disqualified as a candidate for president of his earthquake-shattered homeland. No explanation was given. A spokesman for the council, Richardson Dumel, facing reporters who had been standing vigil at the election bureau all day, read a list of 19 presidential aspirants deemed eligible and 15, including Mr. Jean, whose candidacy had been rejected. But in a statement, Mr. Jean said he was rejected because he did not meet the requirement of having lived in Haiti for five consecutive years before the Nov. 28 elections. Born in Haiti, Mr. Jean left as a child for the United States and now, based in New Jersey, travels often to his homeland. The statement said his heart was heavy but that he accepted […]

Wyclef’s Tough Presidential Quest

By Ryan Tracy, Newsweek Hip-hop singer’s campaign to lead Haiti dogged by questions, hurdles. When Wyclef Jean announced that he would run for president of Haiti, his candidacy had a whiff of inevitability, if not triumphalism. Many, perhaps even the hip-hop star himself, seemed to assume he would seize frontrunner status and then be elected by acclamation. Two weeks later, Jean may still be the frontrunner. But his fledgling candidacy is uncertain, its fate in the hands of a nine-member provisional electoral council weighing whether the U.S.-reared musician is eligible for the race. Jean awaits the ruling—now expected Friday—in an undisclosed location, chased into hiding, he told the Associated Press, by death threats. The hideaway shields Jean from a harsh spotlight trained on the financial dealings of his charity, Yéle Haiti, and on upheaval in his campaign after the PR firm […]

Decision on who can run for Haiti’s presidency is delayed

By Miami Herald Staff and Wire Reports It was unknown which of the 30-plus candidates will be allowed to run for Haiti’s presidency. A decision may come on Friday PORT-AU-PRINCE — Haiti’s electoral commission said late Tuesday that it was postponing its ruling on who will be allowed to run for president in November elections, leaving the candidacy of hip hop artist Wyclef Jean and more than 30 others in limbo. A statement from the commission, known as the CEP, said it would postpone the announcement until Friday. CEP spokesman Richardson Dumel said the eligibility requirements of a number of candidates were still under review. The decision to delay the release of the list is based on a “considerable number of appeals” by candidates and citizens, election officials said. The delay was the latest bizarre turn in the fledgling presidential race […]

Wyclef for President? Not So Fast

By Ryan Tracy, Newsweek The musician claims he is exempt from Haiti’s Constitution, but experts say the argument won’t fly. Even before Wyclef Jean said he would run for president in Haiti, the prospect of conducting a nationwide election there presented a huge logistical challenge for anyone. After a January earthquake decimated governmental infrastructure, records of registered voters were buried in rubble. Many Haitians lost their voter identification cards. Many public employees who ran the electoral bureaucracy were killed. Legally and politically, that’s a perilous position, says Brian Concannon, a lawyer and Haitian human-rights expert who is executive director of the Institute for Justice & Democracy. “It’s such an obvious no-brainer constitutionally,” Concannon says. “There’s nothing in Haitian law,” in the Constitution or elsewhere, that would justify an exemption based on being a goodwill ambassador. And even if there were, […]

Anxiety rises as final cut of Haiti candidates nears

By Jacqueline Charles and Trenton Daniel, Miami Herald As Haiti’s electoral body reviews the applications of 34 presidential hopefuls, much remains unanswered. PORT-AU-PRINCE — The surprise decision came a day before the Saturday deadline, 1 ½ hours before midnight and after weeks of round-the-clock meetings, political bickering and consultations. Two-time prime minister and assumed heir-apparent to the Haitian presidency Jacques-Edouard Alexis would not be President René Préval’s pick to succeed him. Instead, Préval was tapping Swiss-educated mechanical engineer and head of the government’s road building outfit, Jude Célestin, to represent his INITE (Unity) platform. His nomination blocked by senators, Alexis quit the platform and filed with another party. “Jacques-Edouard Alexis is a political leader who made his choice,” said Haitian Sen. Joseph Lambert, the national coordinator for INITE, as he officially declared Célestin, 48, the platform’s presidential choice. “We have […]

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