News from Haiti

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Vote Time Extended in Haiti Election (AP)

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti Polling stations opened late - or not at all - and scuffles broke out Tuesday as Haitians cast ballots in the first presidential election since a bloody revolt two years ago pushed this bloodied, impoverished nation toward total collapse.

Although polls were scheduled to open at 6 a.m. EST, some did not open until hours later. Because of the organizational problems, voting hours originally set to end at 4 p.m. EST were extended by at least two hours, Rosemond Pradel, the secretary-general of Haiti's nine-member Electoral Council, told The Associated Press.

He did not give a new closing time but said there were no plans to extend voting hours into Wednesday.

A shortage of workers, missing ballots and other problems delayed the opening of some voting stations, including those used by people from Cite Soleil, a volatile shantytown at the northern edge of the capital, Port-au-Prince.

Overall, however, voters formed orderly lines and patiently waited to cast ballots.

"There's some frustration and anger on the voting lines," said David Wimhurst, spokesman for the United Nations, which has 9,000 troops and police trying to maintain order in the troubled nation.

"People have ben waiting several hours now and in some cases they haven't even got inside."