Haiti Again Delays Elections, Citing Logistical Problems
The announcement cast further doubt on the Caribbean nation’s ability to hold the elections ahead of a constitutionally mandated February inauguration.
Haiti’s election officials have placed the blame for the latest delay on the United Nations and the Organization of American States for failing to deliver voter cards and set up polling stations, Reuters reported. OAS and U.N. officials rejected the claims.
Haiti has struggled to organize elections since the ouster of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004 by rebel groups and international pressure. A temporary U.S.-backed government is in place, and 9,000 U.N. peacekeepers are working to provide security in the troubled Caribbean country of 8.5 million people.
“The OAS said voting card distribution would be completed by December 25th, but as of now not even half of the cards have been distributed,” said Rosemond Pradel, secretary-general of the Provisional Electoral Council.
Election officials said the OAS was in charge of voter registration and distributing voting cards, while the U.N. stabilization mission in Haiti, known as MINUSTAH, was to set up voting centers around the country.
Pradel said MINUSTAH had said Haitians would not have to walk more than two hours to reach voting centers.
“Now we learned voters have to walk six, seven hours to reach a voting center in some areas,” he said, according to Reuters.
U.N. spokesman David Wimhurst said the U.N. mission had carried out its obligations, which did not include deciding the location of the polling stations.
“Our mission was to verify that the voting centers the electoral council had selected physically existed,” he said.
OAS officials, meanwhile, said they were ready to start distributing voting cards Sept. 25, when the first ones arrived from printers in Mexico, but election officials told them to wait until the polling stations were chosen.
Fewer than 2 million of 3.5 million registered voters have collected their voting cards, according to election officials.
A new date for the elections has not been announced, but interim Prime Minister Gerard Latortue has said the ballot could be set for Feb. 7.