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Haiti voting marred by delays, deaths / BE CALM: Haitians told to be patient and await presidential election results

Michel Martelly and Mirlande Manigat


Counting is under way after Haiti's delayed presidential run-off passed off largely peacefully.

UN observers and Haitian election officials said turnout appeared to be larger than the chaotic first round, which was marred by violence and fraud.

Voters had a choice between pop star Michel Martelly and academic and former First Lady Mirlande Manigat.

Preliminary results are expected on 31 March with final results not set to be confirmed until 16 April.

Whoever wins will face a huge challenge as Haiti struggles to rebuild after the January 2010 earthquake and to cope with a cholera epidemic.

The race between Mr Martelly and Mrs Manigat looks set to be close.

There are concerns that the long wait for the results could add to tensions, but Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) said that the two candidates had agreed not to make any declaration of victory or hold rallies until the first results were announced.

Two shot dead

Voting day itself appeared to be a big improvement in terms of organisation and turnout on November's first round, when only 23% of voters cast their ballots.

Presidential candidates
Mirlande Manigat (left), Michel Martelly (right)

Mirlande Manigat:

  • Assembly of Progressive National Democrats (RDNP)
  • Wife of former president Leslie Manigat
  • Draws support from middle class

Michel Martelly:

  • Repons Peyizan party
  • Singer and entertainer
  • Popular with younger voters

"I've seen a lot of differences compared to 28 November. Participation is greater," said Edmond Mulet, head of the UN peacekeeping mission Minustah.

Election day was also much calmer, although Haitian police chief Mario Andresol said two people were shot dead in clashes between rival political factions in different rural areas.

There had been fears that the return of former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide after seven years in exile in South Africa would destabilise the vote.

After arriving in Haiti on Friday, he criticised the exclusion of his party, Fanmi Lavalas, from the elections, which are also for the country's legislature.

After delays at some poling stations caused by missing voting materials, the CEP extended voting by an hour.

But the CEP head, Gaillot Dorsinvil, said reports of irregularities would have "no impact on the electoral process as a whole".

He also said there had been a larger turnout.

"In a democratic way the Haitian people fulfilled their obligation by voting massively and made their choice," Mr Dorsinvil said.

Twin tasks

But for some of the people still living in tent camps more than a year after the earthquake, the election seemed a pointless exercise.

"What for? Nobody helps us," one of the camp residents, Francine, told AFP.

Helping the Haitian people and reassuring international donors are two huge challenges facing either Mr Martelly or Mrs Manigat.

Some 800,000 people are still housed in temporary camps as Haiti struggles to rebuild in the wake of the devastating quake.

The country has also been suffering a cholera epidemic that is likely to flare up again with the start of the rainy season in a few weeks.

International donors are looking for the next president to help restore some stability and be a partner they can work with.

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.


The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti Monday called on all candidates in the second round of presidential and legislative elections on Sunday to show patience and restraint as they wait for the results of the vote.

In a statement, the UN peacekeeping mission said that the message of restraint and clam was also being sent to the followers of the candidates, warning that the future of the impoverished Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country is at stake.

“The second round of the presidential and legislative elections has concluded in considerably better conditions than the first round despite some logistical and administrative problems and isolated acts of violence in certain departments,” the UN Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).

“MINUSTAH congratulates the Haitian people for the patriotic spirit, calm and discipline which they have shown,” it added, praising the efforts of the authorities to make the run-off credible and allow the popular will to be expressed.

 “The evident enthusiasm of the electorate is clear evidence of the importance Haitians attach to democracy.”

Former first lady Mirlande Manigat and popular musician Michel Martelly faced off in the presidential poll, which was delayed by two months when violence erupted after disputed first round results in December.

Those results initially put Mrs. Manigat and outgoing President Rene Préval’s party candidate, Jude Celestin, in first and second place, qualifying for the run-off, with Martelly less than one percentage point behind in third place, but thus excluded.

His supporters set up burning barricades of timber, boulders and flaming tyres. After a re-examination of the ballots, the Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) last month announced that the second run off would be between Martelly and Mrs. Manigat.

Results of the second round are not expected for several days.

 “While awaiting the end of the counting and the tabulation of ballots, MINUSTAH urges all candidates and their followers to show patience and restraint, thus giving an example of democracy, since it is the future of the country that is at stake,” MINUSTAH said.

MINUSTAH, with almost 12,250 uniformed personnel currently on the ground, has been in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere since mid-2004 after then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide went into exile amid violent unrest.

Aristide returned to the country mere days before Sunday’s poll despite pleas by the United States thayt his presence could affect the voting.

Aristide’s Lavalas party was not allowed by the CEP to contest the elections.

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