Disaster-Ravaged Haiti Heads to Polling Places

Manila Bulletin, November 28, 2010 | Go to article overview

Disaster-Ravaged Haiti Heads to Polling Places


PORT-AU-PRINCE (AFP) - Haitians head to vote Sunday in an election marred by violence and concerns of fraud, with a cholera epidemic eating away at the earthquake-ravaged country.Voters will choose a successor to President Rene Preval, who is not running for reelection, as well as 11 of the country's 30 senators and all 99 parliamentary deputies in the landmark vote.Sunday ''is an important day for the country's future,'' Preval said Saturday in a recorded broadcast message, urging voters to act with ''order and discipline... so election day goes off well and Haiti can move forward.''In the Petionville suburb of Port-au-Prince, armed peacekeepers stood guard as boxes of ballots were unloaded from a UN convoy.''I hope they will give me my ballot. My duty is to vote to help my country after the earthquake and cholera,'' 19-year-old Josue Phanon told AFP Saturday. ''I have not decided yet for whom I will cast my ballot, but I will do so tomorrow.''Local officials said the ballot boxes would arrive later that night or early Sunday ahead of the start of the voting, with polling stations open from 6:00 am to 4:00 pm (1100 to 2100 GMT).More than 4.7 million people are eligible to take part in the election, the results of which are to be made public starting December 5, with the official tally announced on December 20.The new president will lead the poorest country in the western hemisphere, a nation of around 10 million people where 80 percent of the population lives on less than two dollars a day.Front-runners among the 18 candidates include Jude Celestin, an engineer supported by Preval; academic and former first lady Mirlande Manigat; and Michel Martelly, a popular singer widely known as ''Sweet Micky.''The election comes as Haiti battles a cholera outbreak that has claimed at least 1,648 lives. It is also the first election since a devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake in January killed more than 250,000 people.The campaigning has occasionally turned violent, with at least one person killed and several wounded when gunmen opened fire on a rally for Martelly late Friday. …

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