Candidate ruled out of presidential elections

REPORTS circulated in Haiti’s capital last night that Government- backed presidential candidate Jude Celestin had been ruled out of the secondary round of the elections.

A report by the Organisation of American States is understood to have concluded that the former civil servant did not reach the quota needed, which leaves the race open between former first lady Mirlande Manigat and carnival singer Michel Martelly.

According to reports, election monitors have recommended Celestin should be removed in the ballot in the upcoming second vote because of “evidence of improper balloting”.

The decision could cause security concerns in Port au Prince because of street protests ahead of tomorrow’s national day of commemoration.

Rioting broke out in several Haitian cities when the preliminary results were originally announced in recent weeks.

Meanwhile, Irish aid workers and celebrities have joined forces as efforts continue to raise much needed funds for Haitians.

Tomorrow sees the first year anniversary of the earthquake.

Moves are under way to twin Irish schools with education facilities there.

Concern has already raised $150,000 (€115,000) from selling 10,000 T-shirts manufactured in Haiti which are being sold through a major US retailer and online in Europe.

The project has seen Irish businessman Denis O’Brien and his company Digicell paying local Haitian workers $3.30 for each one made which are then being sold on for $15.50 to customers.

US clothes chain American Eagle Outfitters are selling the clothing, which have been promoted by U2’s the Edge as well as actor Joaquin Phoenix and Dublin band the Script.

It is hoped that up to $1 million will be raised when all the T-shirts are all sold.

The fundraising is set to help rebuild the country’s schools, 85% of which were damaged or destroyed during the earthquake last year. The funds will also be used to train teachers and equip schools with furniture.

Concern confirmed that its online stock of t-shirts had already sold out.

Haitian entrepreneurs last night were given awards at a ceremony in the capital Port au Prince as part of efforts to get trade and business back up and running.

Meanwhile a group of Irish fundraisers the Clowns of Haiti are a group of Irishmen who this week arrived back in the capital.

Charity co-founder Peter Hanley and a colleague made the journey after the earthquake last year.

“On Christmas day 2009, two clowns went to the 40 Foot in Sandycove, County Dublin, to raise funds for Haiti. 12 days later, the earthquake struck. After seeing the devastation, we knew we had to go to Haiti. So we packed our backpacks with clown uniforms and flew to Port Au Prince on our own.”

On returning from Haiti, Mr Hanley and colleagues set up their charity called Schools of Miracles Haiti, the fundraising arm of which is Clowns for Haiti.

Last week, the charity filled a 40-foot container with school furniture, building tools and school supplies from Dublin schools.

The charity has also garnered support from the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, who are backing moves to twin Irish schools with ones in Haiti.

The first Irish school to be twinned with a Haitian school is CBS in Lucan.

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