Issues related to poverty alleviation, food security, unemployment and the economy were highlighted by five of Haiti’s presidential candidate at a recently held town hall meeting at the George Washington University in Washington D.C.
Candidates Clarens Renois, Charles H. Baker, Simon D. Desras, Moise Jean Charles and Mathias Pierre mainly focused on the road to prosperity. According to Barker, if elected, his administration will focus on creating 675,000 jobs in the field of agriculture.
“There must be order and discipline to work in Haiti, in addition to agriculture,” said Barker. “I will focus on health and education.”
For his part, Desras promised to turn his attention to food security, arguing that “we have to go from a market economy to a human economy; in other words, arm the society to fight against unemployment, hunger, poverty and the engagement of the World Bank in Haiti, especially in the area of infrastructure, energy and growth.”
Morse Jean Charles, who was mayor in the former René Préval administration, believes political stability is crucial for the growth of the nation – “security in the large sense, not just having police officers on the road. A country where people spend three days without food, is not a country with security. We have to reform the state.”
In sharing his vision for the country, Pierre said there must be economic equality, particularly “the youth, farmers and women. A country cannot be built with a huge economic exclusion.”
Renois turned his attention to Haiti’s youth. “Haiti’s population is 65 percent of youth, the young in Haiti just leave the country, they go to Brazil, Canada and the DR [Dominican Republic]. We need to find a way to keep the young in Haiti,” he said.
The campaign for the October 25 legislative and presidential election began on Wednesday, September 23. At least 54 candidates have been approved by the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) to contest the presidential elections to choose a successor to President Michel Martelly, who is barred from seeking a third consecutive term under the constitution.
The first round of legislative elections on August 9 was marred by incidents of violence with the CEP reporting that men armed with rocks and bottles had attacked polling stations in the capital. The CEP later banned a number of candidates and political parties from the second round of the elections. Many candidates are also disputing the preliminary results, with the CEP promising that the final results would be posted by month end.