By Joseph Guyler Delva
PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – More than two dozen people have signed up to run for Haiti’s presidency, authorities said on Wednesday, including the four leading candidates from an earlier election aborted after a commission found widespread fraud
Unless registrations rise significantly before a 0000 EDT deadline, the number of presidential candidates will be about half those who contested the last ballot in Haiti, the hemisphere’s poorest country.
Fewer candidates could make the election due on October 9 easier to organize, with several politicians who ran last time pledging support for Jude Celestin, who came second in the previous ballot.
“This joint effort is a choice for stability and democracy, against corruption and fraudulent election,” Celestin told reporters.
Jovenel Moise, who came first last time, again registered to run, as did Jean-Charles Moise and Maryse Narcisse who came third and fourth last time.
The registration of Moise removes uncertainty over whether his PHTK party would take part in the new election. The party’s position had been that irregularities in the first round were not large enough to alter the outcome and that it would be better to hold a run-off vote between Celestin and Moise, a position supported by Washington and other donors.
“There is no question of abandoning the election process because we believe in democracy and the only way to access power in a democracy is through election,” Rudy Heriveaux, a spokesman for Moise’s PHTK party, said.
Haiti’s last elected president left office without an elected successor, paving the way for a interim government led by President Jocelerme Privert. He failed to organize elections by May in a timeline set in a multi-party deal, but may end up staying on to organize the next vote.
“We continue to believe that Jocelerme Privert should leave power because his term is over and he is manipulating the election process in favor of his political family,” Heriveaux said.
“If the election is free, fair and democratic, there is no doubt that Jovenel Moise will win,” he said.
Former presidential candidate, Sauveur Pierre Etienne, who is now supporting Celestin, said he made that choice because he believes Celestin is the best man to lead the country.
“I support Jude Celestin because he showed that he is a man of character,” he said.
(Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Michael Perry)