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Haiti Holds Long Delayed Parliament Vote

  • VOA News

Electoral workers revise ballot papers during vote counting in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, August 9, 2015.

Electoral workers revise ballot papers during vote counting in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, August 9, 2015.

Haiti held long-awaited parliamentary elections Sunday, taking a step toward political stability in a country still working to recover from a devastating 2010 earthquake.

The voting was marred by clashes at some polling places, including in the capital, Port-au-Prince. At other sites, voters had to wait for hours after the polls were due to open, and in some cases were given extra time.

Pierre-Louis Opont, director-general of the Provisional Electoral Council, told a news conference late Sunday that the problems were limited to a small number of polling places.

Voting centers

"Today, I can say that the violence only pertained to 4 percent of the voting centers," he said. "Given in total there are 54,508 polling stations, there is only 4 percent affected. That we can say tonight."

The head of an observer delegation from the Organization of American States, Enrique Castillo, said overall the vote was valid.

"These problems that appear are not so generalized or so big as to be able to question the whole process," Castillo said. "The whole process stands, and that's the first conclusion, and we also acknowledge that the council made efforts to resolve the situations that appeared in the day."

More than 1,800 candidates are running from 130 different parties. Election results are not expected for several days. Voter turnout was reported to be low.

Parliament dissolved

Haiti has not had a parliament since it was dissolved in January. The previous terms of lawmakers expired before the country could organize the new vote.

Another round of voting is scheduled for October when Haiti will also hold an election to pick a successor to President Michel Martelly.

Martelly has been ruling Haiti by decree in the absence of a parliament, drawing criticism and protests from opponents who said they lost faith in the central government.

He took office in 2011 and twice during his tenure parliamentary elections were due to take place but did not. He is not eligible to run for another term in October.