South Florida to host Haiti presidential debate Sunday

By Jacqueline Charles

Haiti’s presidential campaign is coming to South Florida.

Candidates in the Oct. 25 presidential elections will be presenting their programs to South Florida’s burgeoning Haitian community Sunday when Port-au-Prince-based Radio Television Caraibes (RTVC) and Friends of Haiti diaspora organization sponsor a presidential debate in North Miami.

It is the first such gathering of Haitian presidential candidates in South Florida. Two other similar forums were held in New Jersey on Sept. 12 and Washington, D.C. on Sept. 15.

While the Washington town hall came under fire because candidates were asked to speak in English as opposed to French or Creole, Magalie Theodore said, “this one is going to be in Creole.” It will begin at 4 p.m. at North Miami Senior High, 13110 NE 8th Ave.

Ten of 54 Haitian presidential candidates have agreed to debate their programs in South Florida.

Theodore, a member of Friends of Haiti, said candidates will be questioned by several well-known journalists including Valery Numa of Vision 2000; Jean Monard Metellus of Radio Caraibes and Robenson Geffrard, the lead elections reporter for Haiti’s Le Nouvelliste newspaper.

So far, about 10 of the 54 candidates seeking to replace President Michel Martelly, who is constitutionally barred from seeking back-to-back terms, have confirmed their participation, Theodore said. They are: Mario Andresol, Charles Henri Baker, Steven Benoit, Fred Brutus, Aviol Fleurant, Eric Jean-Baptiste, Moise Jean-Charles, Steeve Khawly, Samuel Madistin, and Michelet Nestor.

The debate takes place with less than a month to go before the , and as uncertainty and a lack of trust continue to dog the nine-member Provisional Electoral Council.

On Monday, the council, known by its French acronym CEP, published the long-awaited final results of the first-round final of the violence- and fraud-marred Aug. 9 legislative elections. Despite an earlier announcement that the vote needed to be re-run in certain constituencies, the council announced that two senators and eight deputies were elected of the 139 posts up for grabs. All others will head into a runoff on Oct. 25, CEP President Pierre-Louis Opont said at a news conference.

The decision and an elections tribunal’s method of calculating the winners in the Senate races has been denounced by several candidates and political parties.

“If the [CEP] has applied the same mode of calculation to all of the candidates, Verite would have had two senators and nine deputes elected in the first round,” the Verite political party said in a letter to Opont. As a result of the CEP’s decision, Verite has two candidates going head-to-head for the second Senate seat in the West department, which includes Port-au-Prince. Former government prosecutor Jean Renel “Zokiki” Senatus was declared a Senator for the West in the first round along with lawyer Youri Latortue for the Artibonite.

The Haitian radio version of CNN’s Crossfire, Ranmase is where politicians, pundits, critics and want to-be kingmakers vie for a chance to lob accusations, cross verbal swords and debate Haiti’s future.

The ongoing controversy, and fears over the controversial calculations, which open the door for a messy presidential election, will be among the leading topics Saturday when politicians, pundits and critics show up for Haiti’s most popular political radio talk show, Ranmase. The show will broadcast live with a special elections edition, beginning at 8 a.m. from Moca Cafe and Lounge in North Miami, 738 NE 125th St.

Like the radio taping, the presidential debate is free. Organizers, however, say it will be first-come, first-serve and individuals should bring their event tickets from registering at Event Brite. For further information go to or email Doors will open at 2 p.m. It will also be broadcast live by Radio Television Caraibes and relayed by more than 50 Creole-language radio stations throughout the diaspora and Haiti.


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