Whenever an exiled Mirlande Manigat heard the sound of Haitian music, it made her heart ache.
``I was just sick,'' said Manigat, longtime opposition leader, wife of former President Leslie Manigat and now aspiring president. ``I was obsessed with returning.''
She did return, and today, Manigat, a grandmother and Sorbonne-educated university professor, is standing at the crossroads of history.
She is running for president of this beleaguered nation in a crowded field of 19 presidential hopefuls and she has consistently placed high in the polls.
A win would not only make her the first woman elected president of Haiti, and the second to serve, but put the country's long divided opposition in power.
For some, she is the dignified, sentimental favorite in an election where the masses are disillusioned and skeptical over whether anyone can change their miserable existence following a devasting January earthquake, and now a deadly cholera epidemic.
She has twice saw the presidency slip from the family's grasp. The first time was when her husband, Leslie Manigat, won a 1988 election, orchestrated by the military. After four-and-a-half months, he was overthrown in the middle of the night and the couple forced into exile.
``I felt the failure, the profound failure,'' said Manigat, who was a senator at the time. ``I felt like maybe I shouldn't have entered politics. But I also sensed a huge amount of responsibility because of the popularity.''
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