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South Florida Haitians Await Sunday’s Haiti Vote

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MIAMI (CBS4) — Haiti’s presidential candidates are wrapping up their campaigns with loud, musical rallies, as Haitians in South Florida watched from afar as their homeland prepares for Sunday’s election, the first since an earthquake devastated the country.

The major candidates are focusing their last-ditch efforts on the capital, Port-au-Prince, where more than a third of voters live.

Nineteen candidates seeking the post in Sunday’s balloting include ex-prime ministers, an ex-first lady, popular musician and garment factory owner. Outgoing President Rene Preval backs the head of the state-run construction company.

The victor expects to oversee billions of dollars in foreign aid pledged after the Jan. 12 earthquake. He or she will also inherit joblessness, millions of quake-displaced citizens and a cholera epidemic expected to sicken 400,000 people.

The list of 4.7 million registered voters includes many who died in the quake.

\Some Haitians living in the South Florida have been able to cast absentee ballots, but only if they have not become US citizens. Haiti does not recognize dual citizenship.

But even if they can’t vote, the estimated 100 thousand Haitians living in South Florida still have an intense interest in the outcome, because many have family still living in the devastated nation.

Some presidential candidates even came to South Florida to debate their positions.

The pols open in Haiti Sunday morning.

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