Haiti tabulating votes as factions claim victory, fraud
Nearly 1,000 Haitian election workers began 12-hour shifts inside a warehouse Monday tabulating the results of weekend presidential and legislative voting supposed to return their drifting homeland back to full constitutional order.
Despite an apparent low turnout, no election results are expected to be issued by Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council before Sunday, November 27. Few places in the world take longer to give citizens any hint of who won balloting.
Most tally sheets from voting centres were still being transported to the capital by trucks from districts across the mountainous country with no shortage of dilapidated roads. Election workers at local polling stations had worked through the night counting ballots by lanterns and candlelight in a nation with a dismal electricity sector.
Uder Antoine, executive director of a revamped electoral council that is getting high marks for organising Sunday's unusually smooth election, expressed confidence that tabulation workers will deliver accurate, transparent results that will be accepted in a country known for political unrest and chaos after elections.
"It's been many years since Haiti has had an election like this one. The nation woke up calm, people went to work, and kids went to school. I'm very satisfied," Antoine told The Associated Press outside the warehouse computer centre in a Port-au-Prince industrial park.
International and local observers on Monday urged Haitians to wait patiently for the official results even as political activists began loudly claiming victory or alleging vote rigging, a constant in Haitian elections.
Members of the Organisation of American States' observer mission said they would observe the 24 hour-a-day tabulation process until preliminary results are published. They will also observe the inevitable contestation period.
At a news conference, OAS official Gerardo de Icaza said it was important for people to "wait for the official results and not be swayed by political declarations."
Outside, though, activists were already making noise.
Supporters of the Tet Kale party of former President Michel Martelly sent out text messages insisting that their presidential candidate, Jovenel Moise, was victorious in Sunday's balloting and that no second round would be needed.
Meanwhile, over 1,000 partisans of the Lavalas Family faction marched or jogged through a patchwork of slums in Port-au-Prince either claiming victory for Lavalas candidate Maryse Narcisse or claiming electoral fraud that would keep her from office. Some threatened violence if the Lavalas contender did not become Haiti's next leader.
Despite the pockets of political clamouring, the country was tranquil as most Haitians went about their normal lives.