Rene Preval May be Haiti’s Next President

The official results of Haiti’s first presidential election since the exile of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide two year ago will be announced today, according to the spokesman of candidate Rene Preval.

Former president Preval is in the lead, even though all the votes have not been counted, reported the washingtonpost.com. Preval, who also served as prime minister to Aristide, gained favor with poor Haitians because of his help in building schools and improving social services.

David Wimhurst, a U.N. spokesman, told the Post that more than 50 percent of Haiti’s 3.5 million registered voters were believed to have cast a ballot. He also said that the United Nations has not received any reports of fraud or other major irregularities.

However, the Post reported Tuesday that some citizens, old and young, were standing in line to vote for more than five hours only to be told they cannot because either their names were not found on registration lists or lack of proper identification.

After some people found out their poll sites were closed, they began to protest and one man was shot by a police office. The angry protesters then killed the police officer near Cite Soleil, Bel Air. One other man was killed due to similar circumstances. By the afternoon U.N. troops were able to restore some order.

ABC News explained that some problems the new president will have to face in Haiti, considered one of the world’s poorest countries, include the 80 percent of Haitians who live in poverty, gang violence in the Port-au-Prince slums, kidnapping of the wealthy and lower class, and 20 percent of the citizens are living with HIV.  Half of the people cannot read or write and the average wage is $1.07 a day-for those who have jobs.

“We are a poor country and we will not be able to do everything right away.  But we are determined to do our best and raise the standard of living for the people of Haiti,” said Preval.

Other candidates include businessman Charles Henri Baker, former president Leslie Manigat, and one of the supporters of Aristide’s exile, Guy Philippe.

“If we do not stop the decay of institutions and we do not support a legitimate government, we could come to a situation in which a total collapse is possible,” Juan Gabriel Valdes, the U.N.’s special envoy to Haiti, told the Washington Post.  “The international community cannot allow that to happen.”