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Haiti postpones presidential vote in wake of Hurricane Matthew

© Hector Retamal, AFP | People try to cross the overflowing La Rouyonne river in the commune of Leogane, south of Port-au-Prince, October 5, 2016

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2016-10-05

The Haitian authorities have postponed presidential and legislative elections originally set for Sunday because of the havoc caused by Hurricane Matthew, election officials said Wednesday.

The impoverished Caribbean nation's last elections, in 2015, were cancelled amid violence and massive fraud, and the country has been in a political limbo ever since.

The president of Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council, Leopold Berlanger, said a new date for elections would be announced by next Wednesday at the latest after talks between the various interested parties.

The authorities must first assess the damage caused by Matthew, which struck Haiti on Tuesday as a Category Four hurricane with 230 kilometer (145 mile) an hour winds, he said.

The death toll from the storm stands at five killed, but a bridge collapse cut off the area hardest hit, making the scope of the disaster still unclear.

"In the southern region, we already know that many buildings have lost their roofs and some of them were going to be voting centers," Berlanger said.

Poll workers may be among the victims or have been left homeless by the hurricane, he added.

Haiti has been immersed in a political crisis since the first round of presidential elections held on October 25, 2015 drew opposition protests.

The election authorities concluded that there had been massive fraud and cancelled the elections.

Matthew now looms as another major challenge to the restoration of constitutional order in Haiti, which is currently led by an interim president whose mandate ends in June.

"The electoral process is not interrupted," Berlanger said. "We are moving forward and working more intensively to deal with everything that needs to be done and also with these new problems."

(AFP)

Date created : 2016-10-05

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