About 4.5 million people were eligible to cast ballots for a new leader to replace Mr. Preval, along with 11 of 30 senators and all 99 Parliament deputies.
“We do our job. President Preval is the head of state and makes decisions to put us in the right direction, but he cannot just tell us to do this or that,” Mr. Dorsinvil said in an interview last week.
As much as $900 million of $2.12 billion pledged by the top 24 donor nations has been disbursed for Haiti recovery, according to a Nov. 23 U.N. Development Program report.
The candidates gave few hard details about how they plan to rebuild the country. Several ministries are still being operated out of temporary shelters. Instead, the campaign in dusty Port-au-Prince was focused on putting up colorful campaign posters to decorate the rubble in sprawling tent camps.
But nearly all of more than a dozen Haitians interviewed by The Washington Times expressed apathy for the election and said they would not vote.
Among the top candidates are Mrs. Manigat and Mr. Celestin, a 48-year-old engineer. Another is Michel Martelly, 49, a pop star revered among poor Haitians and known for blasting his Kompa dance music at his large rallies.
The weeks before the campaign were marred by deadly outbursts as gunfire in street clashes between rival factions. Adding to the chaos, at least one person was killed in Nov. 15 protests against U.N. peacekeepers in Haiti’s second-largest city, Cap-Haitien, in demonstrations triggered by claims that Nepalese soldiers introduced cholera into the country.
Though the U.N. force of 8,900 “blue helmet” troops and 3,200 police officers is mandated to play a support role for Haitian police, the foreign force outnumbers the underpaid, ill-equipped Haitian force of 9,000 police. The military was abolished in 1995.
“We are assisting them, but because we have the equipment and the training, it looks like we’re taking over. But we have to stick to our mandate,” said U.N. police Officer Andre LeClerc as he met with Haitian police for a joint patrol.
The U.N. has had five peacekeeping missions in Haiti over the past 17 years, with the current one beginning in 2004. Haiti has depended on foreign aid for everything from food to reconstruction for decades.
Since the earthquake, businesses have begun catering to the growing number of aid workers, providing cell-phone package deals for non-governmental organizations and to specialty food imports. Aid workers browsing the shelves at a supermarket in the relatively upscale neighborhood of Pentionville near the capital found few Haitian products among the organic chai tea and microwavable flatbread melts.
Another new economy is sprouting in Haiti’s tent camps, with barber shops, book vendors and entire markets popping up within. A man hawked pirated CDs in a tent camp in front of the half-collapsed presidential palace on a recent afternoon as U.N. police patroled nearby.
Some Haitians see the peacekeepers, who have increased their presence since the quake, as the only way to keep order in a country wrought by Job-like misfortune and where leaders are routinely ousted in coups.
But those who say the forces threaten Haitian sovereignty were bolstered by reports that the a U.N. camp in northern Haiti may have caused the cholera outbreak that has produced 70,000 cases due to leaky septic tanks.View Entire Story
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