Haiti has crowded presidential field on final day to register for November race
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti – A crowded presidential field grew more diverse Thursday as a wealthy U.S. businessman registered his candidacy for the first election since President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted from power following a violent rebellion in February 2004.Dumarsais Simeus, who is the owner of a Texas-based food processing company but was born in Haiti, registered on the final day to become a presidential candidate – joining a field that includes a leader of the rebellion that ousted Aristide and a wide range of former government officials.”I am deeply grateful to the people of Haiti for the enormous outpouring of support, goodwill and love we have received,” said the 65-year-old multimillionaire, who has said he wants to use his business savvy to help resurrect the economy of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.”In all that I have done, I have always been successful. I’m a perpetual winner, and I will win these elections,” Simeus said.The Nov. 20 election will be the country’s first since Aristide was forced from power, and more than two dozen candidates have registered to replace him. Additional hopefuls were expected to emerge by the end of Thursday, the deadline to register with the Provisional Electoral Council. Candidates were also registering for legislative seats.Most of the registered candidates so far are officials from past regimes. The Provisional Electoral Council has barred the candidacy of the Rev. Gerard Jean-Juste, a prominent figure in Aristide’s Lavalas Family party, because he is in prison and can’t register in person.Those who have registered to run for president include former President Leslie Manigat, who was ousted by the army in 1988 after five months in power; Evans Paul, a former mayor of Port-au-Prince who was arrested and tortured several times under former dictatorships; and former Sen. Paul Denis, who headed a committee investigating corruption in Aristide’s government.The list also featured Guy Philippe, a former soldier who helped lead the rebellion that toppled Aristide; Hubert Deronceray, a minister in the Jean-Claude Duvalier dictatorship who has run for the presidency four times; and Marc Bazin, who served as prime minister after Aristide was ousted the first time, in 1991.Radio newscasts said former President Rene Preval and Dumarsais Simeus, a wealthy U.S. businessman who was born in Haiti, were expected to register before the end of the day.The deadline has been postponed several times, amid the politically related violence that has claimed more than 1,000 lives since Aristide was forced into exile.Some 2.2 million people, about half of those eligible, have registered to vote. A Jan. 3 runoff will follow if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote.Vail Colorado
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