Haiti voting marred by delays, deaths
Late opening of polls, missing ballots and the shooting deaths of two people tarnished the presidential run-off and the wait for the results begins.
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti, Monday March 21, 2011 – Haitians have begun their week and a half week wait for the results of yesterday’s presidential run-off election that was marred late opening of polls, missing voting materials, some irregularities and two deaths in isolated incidents.
There were several hours of delays in some polling centres. At some, there were no ballots, ballot boxes, or even ink and Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) eventually extended voting for one hour.
Although there was no widespread fraud like what affected the first round of voting four months ago, there were a few incidents of people voting more than once and people being turned away because their names were not on the voting list. This time around, clashes were isolated to the rural areas of Nord-Ouest and Artibonite where police chief Mario Andresol reported that two people were killed as supporters of rival political factions shot at each other.
But that was far less than what occurred last November when fraud and violence were widespread. The head of the CEP, Gaillot Dorsinville, said he did not believe the problems would have an impact on the electoral process overall.
Electoral council satisfied
“In a democratic way the Haitian people fulfilled their obligation by voting massively and made their choice,” he said in assessing the poll in which 4.7 million people were registered to vote.
Edmond Mulet, head of the UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti – MINUSTAH – said that from his observations, participation in yesterday’s run-off was greater than in the first round.
In addition to the presidential run-off elections, there was also voting for 76 out of the 99 departmental seats.
The preliminary results of those legislative elections and the contest between 50-year-old popular musician Michel Martelly and former first lady Mirlande Manigat, 70, both of whom were confident of victory going in to the poll, won’t be known until March 31. The final results should be announced April 16.
The victor, who will take over from René Préval, will have the mammoth task of rebuilding Haiti which is still struggling following the earthquake in January last year that killed more than 300,000 people and has left about 800,000 still living in tent camps; and a cholera outbreak that is expected to flare up in the coming rainy season.
Wyclef shot on eve of election
Meantime, musician and former presidential hopeful Wyclef Jean, was shot a day before the elections in the city of Delmas, just outside the capital Port-au-Prince sometime around 11 pm.
He had to be taken to hospital where he was treated for a graze on his right hand and discharged.
Jean, who was prevented by contesting the presidential election because he had not lived in the country for five years prior to the poll, turned out on voting day with a heavily bandaged hand to cast his ballot, most likely for Martelly whom he has publicly supported.
Details about the shooting are sketchy and his spokespeople would only say he is doing well.
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