Unrest, Violence Troubled Haitian Legislative Elections

Fourteen candidates, who ran in the Haiti's first-round legislative elections on August 9, have been disqualified by the state election officials following violent disturbances at voting stations across the country. Two people were killed amid violence; the percentage of polling was reported to be less than the expectation.


Three polling stations in the capital city were vandalized and 26 were shut down early after fights broke out. During this election, nearly six million eligible voters would choose 119 deputies and 20 senators from more than 1,800 candidates registered from 128 registered political parties. It is still unknown whether the disqualified candidates have won, because the winners have not yet been announced. The polling stations across the country were supposed to remain open between 6:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. local time, but voters were frustrated at many stations because they opened late or were suspend to voting. They grew further exasperated when many of them could not find their names on the voter list. As a result, voting was extended for two hours at some polling stations. At the end of the day, Pierre-Louis Opont, the head of the country's Provisional Electoral Council, has said that 5 polling stations, about 5% of the total, were closed due to violence and other disruptions and one council staffer (Lucien Joseph Hébert) has vanished with election material!

Every two years, a third of the Senate seats are normally replaced; however, voting was suspended in 2012. Sunday's poll was the first legislative elections in Haiti since Martelly took power in 2011 and it was the first of three election days before the end of the year. Haitian police were involved in maintaining law and order during the election with supports from UN police and peacekeepers. Unidentified gangs threw bottles and stones at polling stations, forcing suspension of voting. After casting his vote, the Haitian President has said that he would hope that the election officials would be more organized during the presidential election. Special representatives of the UN Secretary General and a "Core Group" of ambassadors in Haiti have welcomed the elections, but have condemned the day's unrest. The "Core Group" consists ambassadors from Brazil, the United States of America, Canada, Spain, France, the European Union and also includes the special representative of the Organization of American States.

The next phase of the election is scheduled to be held in October with the beginning of presidential voting; a third round could take place in December. International allies have tagged this as a $74 million election.

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