After presidential voting Haitians have a long wait

Haiti held an election Sunday but it might be sometime in April when the results are known.

Voters came out early Sunday. After widespread allegations of fraud in the first round, officials were hoping this second and hopefully final round vote would run smoothly. International donors are waiting for a legitimate government to which they could release billions of dollars in aid to rebuild the country. But there were some sporadic problems in downtown Port-au-Prince.

At 6 a.m., early voters at the Lycee Marie Jean polling station in downtown Port-au-Prince began to trickle in. Haitians had been urged to turn out en masse to decide which of two candidates will lead the country as it struggles to rebuild after the earthquake of over a year ago.

Polling station supervisor Jeanty Williams was pleased with how smoothly voting was going.

“So far everything is OK. We opened at 6 a.m. And as you can see the people are voting. They are coming and going, but it is a little slow.”

The race for president pits former first lady Mirlande Managat against musician Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly. Also on the ballot are senators and deputies in 76 run-off legislative races.

Roseline Beljane said she left her house at 5 in the morning to vote. She had to wait more than an hour because there was no ink used to mark voter’s fingers after they vote.

When asked for whom she voted for, she smiled coyly and as she was walking away said: “For the person who is working for the country . . . Wyclef.” She was referring to Wyclef Jean, the rapper who launched a candidacy for president last year. His candidacy was disqualified by the national election committee. He has been at the side of band mate and friend Michel Martelly for much of his campaign.

But things rarely go as planned in Haiti. At the front gate, security guards had blocked it off and were not letting anymore voters in. The electoral committee had ordered the polling station closed because some voting materials had never arrived. The polling station supervisor, flanked by security guards, walked out to speak to the crowd.

But angry voters like Joseph Sinal were uninterested in his explanation.

“I am here. I have an electoral card and they would not let me vote. They say they are missing materials, but I am here to vote for Michel Martelly. That is it,” said one voter.

Voting was also halted at the Lycee Jeune Fils polling station just a few blocks away because of missing materials.

An election committee spokesperson said an emergency meeting had been called to discuss the problem. They also said voting was going smoothly in other parts of the city and across the country. A few hours later both polling stations were reopened.

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