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Haiti Postpones Presidential Runoff Election

by VOA News December 21, 2015

Haiti's election council has postponed the presidential runoff election scheduled for this Sunday, amid accusations of irregularities by opposition candidates.

The Provisional Electoral Council said Monday that the vote will be rescheduled, but it did not give a new date.

The runoff is to be between the top two vote-getters from October's presidential election: Jovenel Moise, a banana plantation owner, and Jude Celestin, the former head of Haiti's government construction agency.

Moise and Celestin came out on top in a field of more than 50 candidates in the first round of voting.

Some opposition candidates have alleged there was fraud in the October election and have threatened to derail the runoff vote unless the issue is addressed.

October numbers

The October vote was largely free from the violence that had plagued parliamentary elections in August. Officials say voter turnout was low with only 1.5 million of Haiti's more than 5 million registered voters going to the polls.

Moise, 37, of the ruling Haitian Party of Bald Heads – named in honor of the outgoing president – received 32.8 percent of the vote in the October poll, while Celestin, 53, of the Alternative League for Progress and Emancipation of Haiti, received 25.2 percent.

October's election was staged nearly five years after President Michel Martelly came to power in a country struggling to recover from the effects of the deadly 2010 earthquake that leveled much of the capital, Port-au-Prince, and left more than a million people homeless.

A cholera epidemic followed the earthquake, delivering another blow to the Caribbean republic that is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.

Today, some hard-hit sites in Port-au-Prince have changed dramatically and most lots are cleared of rubble. However, thousands of people are still struggling to eke out a living.

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