Haiti Awaits New President

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(Christian Science Monitor) — Polling stations opened late due to lack of supplies. Voters’ names didn’t appear on registration rolls. In other cases, citizens were even unsure of where to vote.  But for Haiti, Sunday’s election was deemed a success overall, as Haitians cast ballots in what could be their nation’s most important presidential elections.  On top of handling billions of dollars in foreign aid, the new president will be tasked with leading the country through the reconstruction from last year’s earthquake that has left the capital covered in debris: Some 800,000 people live in tent camps in the capital, still displaced from the January 2010 earthquake that damaged or destroyed 188,383 homes and killed some 230,000 people. A cholera epidemic that began last fall continues to spread.  Preliminary results are not expected until March 31 from the second-round election that pitted former First Lady Mirlande Manigat against flashy musician Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly. Final results are scheduled to be confirmed April 16.

To a lesser degree, Sunday’s run-off vote was marked by many of the same problems as those voters experienced in a first round that culminated with 12 of 19 candidates asking for the vote to be annulled due to widespread fraud, although this time violence was avoided.  “They want to choose for us, they don’t want us to vote, it’s a game,” says Jaybe Alias, who lives in Camp Corail, one of the only government-organized displacement camps. Thousands of people showed up to vote in the camp’s polling station, just north of Port-au-Prince, but election officials had just 40 names on voter rolls. None were his.  “There are thousand of people here,” Mr. Alias says. “How come only 40 people can vote?”  Stories similar to Alias’s were common.

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