Saturday, September 18, 2010
In quake-torn Haiti, few answers at presidential debate
By EVENS SANON
Haiti held its second presidential debate ever Saturday, a sparsely attended event that was short on detailed responses from the candidates and disrupted by multiple power blackouts.
During the two-hour televised debate held at a restaurant, only four of 19 candidates seeking to become president in the Nov. 28 election faced off in front of about 40 audience members.
The four gave few specifics about how they would help the nation recover from the January earthquake that killed as many as 300,000 people and left more than 1.5 million homeless.
The Western Hemisphere's most impoverished and least developed country has received only a trickle of the $5.3 billion pledged in international aid.
Candidate Gerard Blot asked for a minute of silence for quake victims before his opening remarks, and he encouraged Haitians overseas to become more involved in helping rebuild.
Sen. Jean Hector Anacacis said he would try to revive the National Guard and create a secret service agency that would bolster security and create a safer environment for foreign investors.
Pastor Jean Chavannes Jeune said he wanted a government that would create unity and help solve problems.
Wilson Jeudy, mayor of the city of Delmas east of Port-au-Prince, agreed. "Everyone is tired," he said.
Jeudy continued to speak even as the lights went out for the second time, prompting someone in the audience to yell that he could not be heard.
Audience member Patrick Gorelien, 28, said he was frustrated by the vague responses and disappointed that those who attended had to submit questions in writing instead of addressing the candidates directly.
He said the moderator did not pose his question - How would you lift people out of poverty? - and he was still undecided about who to vote for.
Not present was hip hop artist Wyclef Jean, who was barred from running for president presumably because he failed to meet residency requirements.