Haitian Presidential Bids Begin Anew

February 18, 2011  |  

(Washington Post) — The two candidates in Haiti’s presidential runoff election launched their official campaigns Thursday, providing voters with a sharp contrast in tone and style.  Mirlande Manigat, a 70-year-old law professor and former first lady, sedately spoke to journalists on the grounds of an upscale hotel that was leveled in the capital’s 2010 earthquake. She discussed her plans to improve education, contain cholera, and move hundreds of thousands of Haitians out of encampments where they have been living since the disaster.

Meanwhile, popular singer Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly, the longtime “president of kompa” music and a pro-military populist, attracted thousands of supporters to the streets of Haiti’s second largest city with a carnival-like atmosphere.  People in Cap-Haitien sang and danced in the midday heat to marching bands during breaks from political speeches blaring from loudspeakers. Martelly was accompanied by Haitian-American hip-hop star Wyclef Jean, an influential figure in Haiti, and other singers popular in this desperately poor country.

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