Uncertainty grips Haiti after Tuesday’s massive vote

Former President Rene Preval has taken an early lead but delays in retrieving results slow official vote counting.

Rene Preval, a former president seen by the poor majority as a follower of ousted leader Jean Bertrand Aristide, has taken an early lead in Haiti elections, but delays in retrieving results has slowed the official vote counting. Unofficial exit polls give Preval a strong lead of as much as 55 percent of the vote against his 32 competitors after Tuesday’s chaotic vote that left at least five killed and many injured at the overcrowded polling stations.

As ballot counts are still being ferried to the capital by plane, truck and mule Port-Au-Prince, the Capital, and its notable slum, Citi Solleil peacefully waited for the results. Jacques Bernard, director general of Haiti's electoral council, said only a small percentage of balloting results had reached Port-au-Prince.

Tuesday's elections were the first since former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was ousted in a bloody US-backed coup two years ago, and officials said collecting and tabulating the results would take several days. Preval supporters believe the delays could be part of a move to frustrate the candidate’s aspirations.

Preval's political adviser, Bob Manuel, said to the press in Haiti that preliminary calculations showed the candidate having won 67 percent of the nationwide vote, with 16 percent of votes counted. The UN peacekeeping mission lead by Brazil reported no signs of fraud or other major irregularities.

On Tuesday, many voters that lined for hours outside polling stations said that the delays were intentional and meant not to allow Haitian masses to vote for Preval. “He is our las hope, I’ll wait for hours if neccesary”, said a poor young woman before the TV cameras in Port-Au-Prince.

If no candidate wins a majority, a runoff between the top two vote-getters will be held March 19. Although the claim of Preval's lead by his team couldn't be verified, early results posted at polling stations showed the candidate leading his opponents. At a large polling center near the huge slum of Cite Soleil, unconfirmed results taped to large columns inside showed Preval winning about 90 percent of the votes cast there.

Hernan Etchaleco


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov