Haiti announces partial vote re-run after violence-hit elections

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 21, 2015 11:45 AM

By Peter Granitz

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) - Voting in parts of Haiti's capital and some rural areas will be re-run after violence and voter intimidation disrupted elections this month in the impoverished Caribbean country, election officials have announced.

Gangs overran some voting centers in Port-au-Prince and other areas, forcing election officials to halt balloting in the Aug. 9 legislative and municipal elections. Turnout was only 18 percent of the country's 5.8 million voters, officials said.

Both the repeat voting and runoff elections for most parliamentary seats will be held on Oct. 25.

Voting is done on a constituency basis in Haiti so officials allowed some results to stand. Haiti's parliament dissolved in January after scheduled legislative elections in 2011 and 2014 were canceled.

There were no outright winners in voting for the Senate, meaning there will be runoff elections for 20 seats, according to official results posted on Friday. There will be also be runoff elections in all but five of the 119 races for seats in the lower Chamber of Deputies.

The government said 5 percent of voting stations were shut down on election day, mostly due to violence and intimidation by official party observers.

The electoral body, the CEP, announced late on Thursday it will re-run voting in the 25 voting centers or polling stations - out of a total 1,508 - that saw massive irregularities.

Parties are allowed to send representatives to polling stations to monitor the tally. In this month's election, many complained they never received accreditation, while some voters said they were intimidated by aggressive party representatives.

CEP members promised improvements before October's vote, including handing out accreditations for party representatives two weeks before election day.

Bob Maguire, a Caribbean scholar at George Washington University, noted Haiti's history of flawed elections in the 28 years following the ouster of the Duvalier family dictatorship.

"It just seems like Haiti is stuck in this mode," he said.

Since the Aug. 9 elections, the CEP has disqualified at least 16 candidates from a handful of parties for irregularities.

"Now that they've excluded them, they should be prosecuted to set a clear precedent that it's unacceptable to engage in electoral violence," said Mark Schneider, a vice president with the International Crisis Group, an independent conflict resolution group and longtime observer of Haiti.

Schneider recommended that if the CEP chooses to keep the same voting locations, it should increase security at those that were shut down on Aug. 9.

(Editing by David Adams and Frances Kerry)