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29609: Craig (news) Haitians Vote in Long - Delayed Elections (fwd)
From: Dan Craig
December 3, 2006
Haitians Vote in Long - Delayed Elections
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Filed at 9:37 p.m. ET
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) -- Haitians cast ballots Sunday in municipal and
local elections that were billed as the final step in the troubled country's
return to democratic rule following a bloody February 2004 revolt that toppled
former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
Some 29,000 candidates were vying for 1,420 local and municipal posts in
Sunday's vote, which was marked by low voter turnout and isolated reports of
The elections took place more than a year late because of street violence and
logistical delays. Final results were not expected for several days.
On Sunday, assailants burned two polling stations, and shot and wounded a man
in the northern town of Limonade, local media reported. Police later shot and
wounded a Fusion party official after they found him with two Molotov
In the Port-au-Prince slum of Martissant, automatic gunfire rang out after
polls opened, but there were no immediate reports of injuries. Rival gangs have
been fighting for weeks and had threatened to disrupt the polling, residents
United Nations peacekeepers used tear gas to disperse a small crowd that
shouted anti-U.N. slogans at a polling station in Cite Soleil, a volatile slum
on the edge of Port-au-Prince.
Voter turnout appeared low in most parts of the capital of Port-au-Prince, with
many polling stations virtually empty. Officials had predicted turnout at 40 to
50 percent, well below the massive participation in February's presidential
vote won by Rene Preval.
Visiting a polling center in the capital, Preval's prime minister, Jacques
Edouard Alexis, praised the organization of the elections but said he had hoped
for a higher turnout.
''Citizens must be informed of the importance of local communities,'' Alexis
told local Radio Metropole.