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Disorganization mars Haiti vote

The election intended to bring democracy to all levels of government in Haiti unraveled further Monday.

Vote counting proceeded under questionable circumstances and Sunday's chaotic balloting was criticized both by Haitian political leaders and election observers.

At least 200,000 of Haiti's 3.5-million registered voters were still waiting Monday to cast ballots for parliamentary, mayoral and municipal council seats, but election officials were unable to say when, if ever, that would happen. Officials acknowledged some polling stations were still without ballots and voting materials that should have been delivered last week.

As the pace of vote counting picked up on Monday, evidence of tallying irregularities also mounted. Downtown, the main counting center for the capital region was in disarray, with clusters of ballots scattered in the street and ballot boxes strewn in no apparent order throughout hallways and rooms.

Evidence from provincial areas was sketchy because of poor communications, but there were reports from election observers and Haitian radio of similar problems.

The Organization of American States, which has more than 300 observers here, warned that because of administrative failings, "it remains to be seen how effectively the count will be carried out."

Opposition political parties were not waiting for the results to condemn what they called a pattern of vote manipulation that favored the Lavalas Political Organization, whose slate is endorsed by President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Demonstrators chanted that their parties were victims of maguy, a Creole word meaning trickery, deceit, fraud and cheating.

At a news conference Monday, C. Brian Atwood, head of the Agency for International Development and chief of the official American government observer delegation, said Haitians had voted freely and seemingly without fear. But he also detailed "irregularities and administrative flaws that need to be addressed" before the second round of voting July 23.

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