TOPICS > Politics

Haitians Await Presidential Election Results

BY Admin  February 8, 2006 at 12:15 PM EST

Voting on Tuesday went into the evening as some of the 800 polling sites stayed open later than scheduled to accommodate the thousands of voters who waited to vote after a chaotic start to election day.

The first results were expected to trickle in Wednesday, but officials said a winner may not be known for days. Ballots were being carried by U.N. helicopters and mules from some remote mountainous locations.

Officials said it was the largest turnout for any election in the country’s short democratic history, according to Reuters.

Thousands of voters turned out, forming long lines through poor, heavily populated neighborhoods of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

A U.S. official said Washington was prepared to work with whoever wins, but the results could disappoint U.S. policymakers, who pressured former president Aristide to leave Haiti only to find his protege, Rene Preval, favored to regain the National Palace, reported Reuters.

Preval, who is one of 33 candidates, was president of the Caribbean island from 1996 to 2001. He would need more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a runoff on March 19.

Despite some problems, such as some voters not finding their names in registration books, the Organization of American States called the elections a success.

“Finally, the elections took place and they are good elections of which all Haitians can be proud,” said OAS Secretary-General Jose Miguel.

Government officials sought to maintain calm, assuring Haitians that they would all get a chance to vote, and U.N. peacekeepers were on patrol throughout the day. By mid-afternoon, the process appeared more orderly, the Associated Press reported.

At least two people died during election day. A U.N. spokesman said a police officer shot and killed a citizen near a polling station in the northern town of Gros-Morne and then was slain by bystanders, according to Reuters.