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HAITI

Low turnout, violence mar senate elections

2 min

Haiti's Senate elections were marred by sporadic violence Sunday, forcing authorities to cancel polling in parts of the country, as turnout remained low across the impoverised Caribbean nation.

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AFP - Haiti's Senate elections were marred by sporadic violence Sunday, forcing authorities to cancel polling in parts of the country, as turnout remained low across the impoverised Caribbean nation.

Election council president Frantz-Gerard Verret announced the cancellations after hundreds of demonstrators protested at ballot stations as voting got underway.

Haitian President Rene Preval, who voted after returning from the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad, said he would not comment on the election cancellations until polling results were in.

More than 4.5 million Haitians were eligible to appoint 12 senators out of 78 candidates, although voter apathy prompted a low turnout following years of broken political promises.

Haiti, hit hard in recent months by a series of hurricanes and natural disasters, continues to battle chronic poverty and corruption.

Despite advances in some areas, Preval said last week that "stability is still fragile and needs reinforcement," citing drug trafficking, which he called "an enemy of the rule of law, an enemy against the functioning of democratic institutions."

On a whirlwind visit to Haiti, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday she was "encouraged" by an international donors conference in Washington that pledged some 324 million dollars to help the country.

She said the United States will give Haiti 57 million dollars in extra aid this year as part of the aid package announced at Tuesday's conference led by the Inter-American Development Bank and the Haitian government.

"I believe we still have work to do," Clinton said. "Haiti deserves our help."
  

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