The filing deadline for Haiti's presidential elections isn't until Aug. 7, but many of the potential contenders are playing coy about their plans and speculation about who will run is rampant.
The political jockeying for one of the toughest jobs in the hemisphere began well before the catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake. But it has intensified as rumors fly over a possible bid by Haiti-born multi-platinum musician Wyclef Jean, secret polling by foreign powers in search of a new face to lead Haiti's reconstruction and candidacy declarations by some Haitian diplomats and government officials.
The potential candidates are stirring up so much interest that the subject even came up Tuesday at a U.S. congressional hearing on Haiti's rebuilding efforts. The House later approved a $2.8 billion Haiti aid package that is part of a war spending bill on its way to President Barack Obama for approval.
During the hearing, U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-New York, a stalwart supporter of the quake-ravaged Caribbean nation, asked U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Rajiv Shah what he was hearing about the scheduled Nov. 28 presidential elections.
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"Can you give us any idea of who might be running because I got a call from [Haiti Ambassador to the U.S. Raymond Joseph] that he is a candidate," Rangel said.
Shah chuckled slightly and responded: "I've heard a lot of rumors; it's best for me not to speculate."
Said Rangel: "I certainly hope they are just rumors!"
In an interview with The Miami Herald a day earlier, Joseph, who is also the uncle of Jean, would not confirm his candidacy, saying only that "I am thinking about it."
Rumors of Joseph's candidacy swirled two weeks ago when he traveled to Haiti to meet with Haitian President Rene Preval, presumably to hand in his resignation. He never got the meeting.
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