Problems force Haiti to postpone elections
PORT-AU-PRINCE -- (AP) -- Dogged by organizational problems that
than a million voters unregistered, Haiti on Friday postponed elections scheduled
March 19, without specifying a new date.
The announcement came hours after the U.N. Security Council urged
stick ``as closely as possible'' to its schedule for elections, which it said were
crucial to the Caribbean nation's fledgling democracy.
``A new electoral timetable for the balloting will be published
as soon as
possible,'' electoral council spokesman Roland Sainristil said. He cited
``innumerable difficulties surrounding voter registration.''
President Rene Preval had called legislative and municipal elections
dissolving Parliament in January 1999 to end a political impasse that had
paralyzed Haiti's government since disputed elections in 1997.
Two rounds of voting were originally set for November and December,
delayed to March 19 and April 30. About 29,300 candidates are slated to run for
more than 1,000 local and parliamentary offices.
Voter registration was supposed to end Friday, but the council
announced that it
would extend it to March 15.
About 2.9 million people -- out of a possible 4 million who were
eligible -- have
registered, leaving more than 1 million unregistered. The electoral council was
plagued by shortages of materials, pay and staffing disputes, problems in renting
offices, and thefts of registration documents.
The international community is paying half of the $20 million election budget.