Haiti postpones run-off elections amid violence
Officials in Haiti have delayed presidential and parliamentary run-off elections amid ongoing protests and opposition demands calling for a halt to the vote over alleged fraud.
In a statement, Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council said the much-awaited elections planned for Sunday had been put on hold indefinitely, citing security concerns.
The council’s chairman, Pierre-Louis Opont, said that there had been “too much violence throughout the country.”
This is the second time the run-off elections were delayed since the first round of polls that took place on October 25, 2015.
Former head of Haiti’s state construction company, Jude Celestin, and he government-backed candidate, Jovenel Moise, were supposed to face each other in a run-off in December, but the vote was postponed to January 24, due to reports of voter fraud in the first round.
The council did not set a new date for the vote. This is while current President Michel Martelly is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election and is required to leave office no later than February 7.
The developments come as Haiti has seen days of violent riots, with the angry protesters demanding a delay in the run-off. In many instances, they have burned official government and electoral buildings and property.
The Friday announcement led to jubilation from demonstrators marching to oppose the election, but the mood changed after gunshots were fired during clashes between protesters and police.
Police fired at a group attacking a man who appeared to have opened fire at them. There have been reports of casualties, but no figures have been reported.
Meanwhile, the government held an unscheduled cabinet meeting in a bid to “guarantee public order and the security of lives and property,” the office of Prime Minister Evans Paul said in statement on Friday after the electoral commission’s decision to postpone the vote.
The recent poll is the second election in a country that has failed to find political stability since the end of a 30-year dictatorship in 1986.
Whoever wins will face a daunting task when taking over from Martelly as Haiti is the poorest nation in the Americas.