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Chaos reigns ahead of Haiti elections

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-11-26

Haiti is in ruins following January's devastating earthquake, and a worsening cholera epidemic is sweeping the country. Amid the chaos, voters are still preparing to go to the polls this weekend.

Administrative chaos is adding to the uncertainty in Haiti ahead of key post-quake elections due to take place on Sunday.

Some five million Haitians are eligible to vote for a new president in the polls, which will also see 11 of the country's 30 senators and all 99 members of the lower house of parliament chosen.
 
But aid agencies and human rights groups led calls this week to delay the vote in light of chronic administrative chaos and the outbreak of cholera, which UN health officials estimate could infect as many as 200,000 people in the next three months.
 
Many ordinary Haitians are concerned that they will be unable to vote because their documents were lost in the devastating earthquake that flattened the capital city of Port-au-Prince in January 2010, killing more that 250,000 people.
 
At one registration centre in Port-au-Prince, local residents were queueing from 3 am to get the ID cards they need to be able to vote. But progress was hopelessly slow.
 
"I’ve come here four times, and I’m given a new appointment each time,” one resident told FRANCE 24. “I really hope that today is the last time and that I'll be able to participate in the elections."
 
When the doors to the registration centre finally opened at 9 am, the first arrivals were slowly allowed to trickle in. But after a few minutes later, the doors were closed on the rest of the crowd.
           
Inside, only three authorised officials were distributing ID cards to the hundreds waiting.  
 
Ten months after the earthquake, many question whether Haiti is capable of hosting presidential and legislative elections.
 
In the streets of Port-au-Prince, it is rare to find a rebuilt house and no major reconstruction projects have yet begun. More than a million people continue to live in makeshift camps.
 
But despite the difficulties, the administration here is determined to stick to the election timetable fixed by the country’s constitution.
 
It also wants to meet the demands of the donor countries who gave Haiti 20 million euros to organize the elections.

 

Date created : 2010-11-25

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