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26318: (news) Chamberlain: Haiti-Elections (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
By BEN FOX
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Sept 24 (AP) -- A wealthy U.S. businessman whose bid to
run for president of Haiti was rejected by electoral authorities defiantly
pledged Saturday to fight for a spot on the ballot in his native country's
first election since the February 2004 ouster of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Dumarsais Simeus, owner of one of the largest black-owned business in
the United States, said he has appealed to the Provisional Electoral
Council to reverse its decision to strike his name from the list of
presidential candidates in the Nov. 20 election and will do "everything
possible," including filing a legal challenge if necessary, to participate
in the race.
"This election, without us being allowed to participate as a
presidential candidate, will have no legitimacy whatsoever," Simeus, the
son of illiterate Haitian rice farmers, said at a news conference in the
The electoral council late Friday issued a list of 32 approved
presidential candidates -- a diverse group that includes former government
officials from across the political spectrum and a leader of the rebellion
that forced President Aristide out of office and into exile in South
Simeus, the 65-year-old owner of a Texas-based food services company,
was rejected because he has U.S. citizenship, said Rosemond Pradel, the
The businessman, who has lived outside his native country for more than
40 years, told reporters that he has always maintained links to Haiti and
his citizenship should not be an issue.
"I was born in Haiti. I have Haitian nationality. This is not
Garry Lisade, an attorney for the businessman, said the electoral
council misinterpreted Haitian election law, which requires that any
objection to a candidacy be lodged within 72 hours of the Sept. 15 filing
deadline. Simeus had already received confirmation of the "provisional
acceptance" of his candidacy, the campaign said.
If the electoral council does not reverse it's decision, Simeus said he
would appeal to the Supreme Court.
Simeus, who has said he hopes to use his business skills to help the
economy of the Western Hemisphere's poorest nation, said he asked the
council for an explanation of its decision but has not received a response.
In any case, he said he had no intention of abandoning his bid for the
"We are in this battle to stay," he said. "We are in this battle to
change the country."
The council, which rejected 22 presidential candidates, accepted the
candidacies of two presumed front-runners: former President Rene Preval, a
one-time close ally of Aristide; and Marc Bazin, a former prime minister
who is running as a candidate of a moderate faction of the ousted leader.