Monday, November 29, 2010

Fraud, protests and confusion wreck Haiti elections

Despite the cholera crisis, Haiti still pressed on with elections yesterday. But instead of a orderly democratic vote; confusion, protests and fraud allegations ruled the day. One polling center was demolished, and 12 of the 18 presidential candidates said the elections were a "massive" fraud.

From Reuters Alert Net, writers Joseph Guyler Delva and Pascal Fletcher describe how the elections ended so badly.

Voters' frustration at not being able to cast their ballots due to organizational problems at many polling stations in the capital Port-au-Prince boiled over into street protests. At least one polling station was trashed by one angry group.

"We denounce a massive fraud that is occurring across the country. ... We demand the cancellation pure and simple of these skewed elections," the 12 presidential candidates said in a statement read to reporters at a Port-au-Prince hotel.

Still, Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) said the elections went "well" at most of the more than 11,000 polling stations across the nation. "The CEP is comfortable with the vote," council president Gaillot Dorsainvil said.

Counting began after polls closed at 4 p.m. (2100 GMT).

After a day of confusion at many polling centers in the capital, some Haitians expressed anger at what they viewed as a wasteful, flawed exercise.

"Look what our government spends its money on," said Abellar Sony, brandishing a fistful of unused ballot papers at a polling station near the Cite Soleil slum. Children played with unmarked ballot papers, scattering them in the air.

The CEP acknowledged "some problems" and said it was trying to resolve them after the turbulent presidential and legislative elections went ahead amid a raging cholera epidemic and political tensions.

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