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Haiti | International

Poll delays leave Haitians sweating in landmark vote
by UK Independent (reposted)
Wednesday Feb 8th, 2006 7:21 AM
It was 4am and still dark when Dieudoune Orelus left her home in the Delmas 33 district of Haiti's capital - quietly determined to play her part in deciding her country's future.
More than four hours later she was sitting inside the sweltering makeshift polling centre, tired and frustrated and still nowhere near casting her vote. She insisted, however, that she would remain as long as it took - even if that meant waiting until nightfall. "I came here to vote... so that the country can change," she said. "I will stay all day long. I have hope."

Yesterday this impoverished Caribbean nation went to the polls to elect its president and parliamentary representatives in the first election for six years, a process that an overwhelming majority of the population believe is vital if Haiti is to be turned around.

The process was slow and confused and sometimes chaotic; a 76-year-old man died after he was crushed by a crowd. But the violence that some had anticipated appeared to have been avoided, and while voters were often angry and accusatory, they were mostly peaceful.

"It's has been a bit bumpy. Some places opened very late and people were angry," said David Wimhurst, a spokesman for the UN mission in Haiti (Minustah). "But the [election organisers] say they have been dispatching people to help out. So it's been a bit bumpy but it is going forward." The vote was better organised in some areas than others.

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http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article343930.ece
by JURIST (reposted)
Wednesday Feb 8th, 2006 7:31 AM
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Three dead in Haiti as violence, vote manipulation issues mar elections
Joshua Pantesco at 8:31 PM ET
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[JURIST] Three people were killed Tuesday in election-related violence in Haiti [JURIST news archive] as citizens waited for hours at voting stations to participate in the first national poll since former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] was forced from office in 2004 and involuntarily taken out of the country by a US plane. Some critics alleged [Washington Post report] that the government intentionally delayed opening some voting stations to prevent poor citizens from voting for Aristide ally and ex-president Rene Preval [Wikipedia profile], though officials extended vote times [AP report] at the most busy locations.

Preval is considered by most to be the frontrunner out of the 30 candidates, but election results are not expected to be announced for at least several days. UN election observers, stationed in Haiti [UN press release] to ensure that the elections are "free, fair, credible, and transparent," expressed concern with considerable discrepancies on many voter registration lists. Reuters has more.

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