Haiti’s electoral council postpones Sunday’s presidential vote

PORT-AU-PRINCE (Reuters) – Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council yesterday postponed until January this Sunday’s scheduled presidential run-off election amid accusations by the opposition candidate of fraud and irregularities.

“The Provisional Electoral Council informs the general public, political parties and candidates in particular, that the elections of local authorities as well as the partial legislative and presidential elections that were to be held December 27, 2015 are postponed,” the council said in a statement.

Ruling party candidate Jovenel Moïse and former government executive Jude Célestin were due to face each other on Sunday.

Instead, the vote will take place in January, possibly on January 10, two of the council members said.

“We are technically ready for the election but the election has been postponed because there is a commission assessing the process,” Pierre Manigat Jr, vice president of the electoral council, said. “This commission will make recommendations to the electoral council. We could not go on organizing the election without waiting for the recommendations of the commission.”

The winner will succeed President Michel Martelly in February as the head of Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.

If the postponed election goes well, it will mark the first time in Haiti’s rocky political history that three democratic elections have been held in succession without interruption by fraud or armed rebellion.

Moïse and Célestin came out on top in a field of 54 candidates in the first round on October 25.

The third-place candidate in the first round alleged that ballots supporting him had been destroyed.

The Caribbean nation of about 10 million people has struggled to establish democratic rule after decades of dictatorship, military coups and election fraud.

Martelly, a popular singer, oversaw the slow recovery from a devastating earthquake in 2010, but critics have said that he allowed corruption to run rampant and failed to resolve political divisions that led to the dissolution of parliament in January.

Moïse represents the ruling Parti Haitien Tet Kale (Haitian Party of Bald Heads), named after Martelly’s smooth scalp. He won nearly 33 per cent of the vote in the first round.

Célestin, of the Alternative League for Progress and Emancipation of Haiti, won 25 per cent.

The election will also determine a few remaining Senate and lower house seats that required a run-off in addition to local positions for hundreds of municipalities.

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