Polling stations opened this morning in Haiti, where citizens will vote for their next president, and legislative and local candidates.
Haitian president, Michel Martelly cast his vote Sunday in widely anticipated elections in the Caribbean country, with authorities vowing to reign in violence that marred voting earlier in the year.
The president of the last five years voted in the Liceo Petionville neighborhood of capital Port-au-Prince, in elections that will choose his successor, senators, deputies in a parliament that has sat empty for 10 months and mayors, along with voting in a second round of legislative elections.
The first round of the legislative vote was harried by violence and bureaucratic problems in August.
“Voting of candidate Jude Celestin, one of the four favorites rubs his face, shows the vote and proceeds to exercise.”
Scores of people have been killed in the lead-up to Sunday’s vote, with rival gangs vying to seize control of booths. Earlier this week authorities vowed to redouble efforts to ensure Sunday’s vote goes smoothly.
“We guarantee, that October 25, polling stations will be open at 6 am. The staff will be on site, the materials will be available and there will be the necessary security to allow voters to vote in peace,” said Pierre-Louis Opont, head of Haiti’s electoral authority.
“Local media reports normal in the interior of the country, and many people voting: ‘the people want to vote.’”
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has called on all candidates to demand their supporters remain peaceful.
“The Secretary-General deplores the violent incidents that occurred in some locations during the first round of legislative elections on 9 August,” Ban’s spokesperson said.
All three frontrunners in the presidential race have promised to stabilize Haiti after years of economic and political upheaval. Polls have put President Michel Martelly’s handpicked successor Jovenel Moise in a dead heat with opposition figure Jude Celestin. Both candidates have been polling between 20 and 30 percent for months, while Martelly himself is constitutionally barred from running for re-election. A third candidate, Moise Jean-Charles, is expected to secure roughly 10 percent of the vote, while dozens of other presidential hopefuls are trailing behind. If no presidential candidate secures more than 50 percent of the vote, a run-off between the two frontrunners will be held on December 27.
International observers have suggested a successful vote could be a positive step towards stability for Haiti. Elections in 2011 and 2014 were both canceled by Martelly’s government, amid concerns over political stability.