By Michael Kaplan:-
The first round of Haiti’s parliamentary elections was conducted without any major incidents Sunday, Al Jazeera reported. Although international observers said the country’s elections were successful overall, they were marked by some irregularities and violence.
“The consensus is, that while there were some problems — including more than two dozen polling places that were shut down for some reason or another — the process did go on fairly smoothly,” said Rob Reynolds, a senior correspondent for Al Jazeera.
Voter turnout was reportedly lower than anticipated amid fears of violence in the first legislative elections held since President Michel Martelly came to power in May 2011, Agence France-Presse reported. The poorest country in the Americas, Haiti’s history has been marked by chronic instability and political turmoil. Moreover, recovery has been slow since a devastating earthquake inflicted enormous structural damage and killed more than 250,000 people in 2010, according to some estimates.
“The significance of today’s polling goes well beyond filling empty seats in parliament — political stability is the goal,” Reynolds said.
Elena Valenciano, head of the European Union’s observation mission, told AFP that although there were numerous incidents at polling stations, many of them were corrected throughout the day.
Elections were being held for two-thirds of the seats in the Senate and all the seats in the Chamber of Deputies. Although one-third of the seats in the Senate are supposed to be up for election every two years, the Senate elections were canceled in 2012. Election results are not expected immediately, Al Jazeera reported.
International contributors are helping to finance Haiti’s $74 million elections this year and have urged Haitians to vote in all three of them, the Associated Press reported. However, concerns about violence has led to a certain amount of apathy in the country, which may account for a portion of the reportedly low voter turnout Sunday.