MIAMI – Haiti's presidential campaign is coming to Florida.
Candidates in the Oct. 25 presidential elections will be presenting their programs to South Florida's burgeoning Haitian community Sunday when Port-au-Prince-based Radio Television Caraibes and the Friends of Haiti diaspora organization sponsor a presidential debate in North Miami.
It is the first such gathering of Haitian candidates in South Florida. Similar forums were held last month in New Jersey and Washington, D.C.
While the Washington town hall came under fire because candidates were asked to speak in English as opposed to French or Creole, Magalie Theodore, a member of Friends of Haiti, said Sunday's debate will be in Creole.
So far, 10 of 54 Haitian presidential candidates have agreed to appear at the debate.
The candidates are seeking to replace President Michel Martelly, who is constitutionally barred from seeking back-to-back terms.
The candidates who have agreed to participate include Mario Andresol, Charles Henri Baker, Steven Benoit, Fred Brutus, Aviol Fleurant, Eric Jean-Baptiste, Moise Jean-Charles, Steeve Khawly, Samuel Madistin and Michelet Nestor.
The debate takes place as uncertainty and a lack of trust dog the nine-member Provisional Electoral Council, which oversees the voting.
A member of the council, which is known by the acronym CEP, resigned Friday, raising concerns about the possibility of more resignations from the beleaguered body and the fate of the Oct. 25 vote for president, mayors and members of parliament.
"I am not comfortable," said Nehemy Joseph. In a three-page resignation letter, Joseph addressed the criticisms plaguing the council and told Martelly that Haiti needs more than anything "inclusive and impartial elections."
Joseph represented the Vodou and peasant community on the nine-member CEP.
Last week, the council published the long-awaited final results of the first round of the violence- and fraud-marred Aug. 9 legislative elections.
Despite an earlier announcement that the vote needed to be taken again in certain constituencies, the council announced that two senators and eight deputies were elected of the 139 posts up for grabs. All others will head into a runoff on Oct. 25, CEP President Pierre-Louis Opont said at a news conference.
That decision and the election panel's method of calculating the winners in the Senate races have been denounced by several candidates and political parties.
"If the [CEP] has applied the same mode of calculation to all of the candidates, Verite would have had two senators and nine deputies elected in the first round," the Verite political party said. As a result of the CEP's decision, Verite has two candidates going head-to-head for the second Senate seat in the region that includes Port-au-Prince.
The debate comes after former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide broke his silence on the campaign this week to mark the Sept. 30, 1991, coup that forced his first exile.
Aristide, who remains very popular, campaigned for his Fanmi Lavalas party candidate, Maryse Narcisse. He told a crowd outside his home, "Do not obey those who do not respect human rights." The former leader also criticized election officials, calling for cancellation of "the Aug. 9 electoral coup."
Secretary of State John Kerry will stop in Haiti on Tuesday on his way back to Washington from Chile.
"It is imperative for the elections that will take place in October to be successful," Kerry said last month.