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Polarised Haiti votes in tense presidential election

Published:Sunday | October 25, 2015 | 12:00 AM
A national police officer pushes a voter back in line during national elections in the Petion-Ville suburb of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, yesterday. The country is holding the first-round presidential vote Sunday along with balloting for numerous legislative races and local offices.


Haitian voters faced a ballot featuring more than 50 presidential candidates on Sunday as they selected a leader they hope might be able to lift the nation out of poverty and turbulence.

The field is so crowded and confusing that there's little clarity about who might be leading; polls have been unreliable and contradictory.

The voting process was generally orderly across Haiti, although there were some early signs of confusion.

At a voting centre in Port-au-Prince's Martissant slum, an election supervisor repeatedly yelled at dozens of people trying to force their way in. "No voting two times!"

People shouted back that they were being prevented from voting once.

Varnel Polycard, a vendor of phone chargers, walked away fuming.

"I'm here to vote, and they are trying to stop me," he said.

People shoved to stay in line at a polling centre in the PÈtionville district of Port-au-Prince, where police gave the unruliest people in line short zaps with a Taser when brief scuffles broke out.


onlookers gathered


In the Delmas 3 area, Associated Press journalists found onlookers gathered around the battered corpse of a man wearing wristbands of the political party of President Michel Martelly. Those in the crowd denied political motive; they said he was a pig thief killed by a mob.

Police said by mid-morning they had arrested 27 people across Haiti for a variety of offences.

Whoever wins the December 27 run-off faces numerous challenges, including spurring the country's chronically sputtering economy and weaning it off dependence of foreign aid donors, who are largely funding this year's roughly $70 million three-round electoral process.

"The government needs to stimulate growth so that the state can actually pick up the responsibilities that foreign assistance has been providing," Kenneth Merten, the US State Department's special coordinator for Haiti, told The Associated Press.