PORT-AU-PRINCE — Election observers said Monday that Haiti’s local and legislative polls over the weekend took place without major irregularities, despite a disappointing turnout.
Sunday marked the fourth voting day in the Caribbean country over the past year and a half, an agonizing electoral marathon finally coming to an end after a political crisis was triggered in October 2015 when presidential election results were annulled due to massive fraud.
It took until November 2016 to hold another presidential election, with voter turnout at a dismal 21 percent.
The Sunday vote included partial legislative elections -- for one seat in the lower chamber of congress and eight senators -- and nationwide local elections.
Haiti’s six million eligible voters were asked to pick some 5,500 local officials, along with the nine open seats out of a total of 149 in Parliament.
"The elections were held under acceptable security and organizational conditions despite some irregularities and violent incidents," said Rosny Desroches of the Citizen Observatory for the Institutionalization of Democracy.
He said the group’s 904 observers deployed across the country reported "a larger turnout of voters in rural areas and half-empty voting centers in urban areas, particularly in the capital region of Port-au-Prince."
The group estimated turnout at 26.1 percent of registered voters – with more than 30 percent turning up in rural areas compared with only 17 percent in the urban zone. Barely seven percent of the capital’s voters participated.
The West region that includes Port-au-Prince represents more than 40 percent of the Haitian electorate.
The civic malaise is seen as linked to a lack of political campaigning and distrust in elected officials’ ability to improve conditions in the poorest country in the Americas. — AFP