Port-au-Prince (AFP) – Fourteen candidates who ran in Haiti’s first-round legislative elections have been disqualified over their suspected involvement in crime and violence that marred polling, election officials said Tuesday.
Two people were killed during the long-delayed August 9 elections and sporadic violence forced dozens of voting centers to close in the first voting since 2011 in Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas.
The candidates stand accused of various crimes, including firing an automatic weapon near a polling station, ransacking voting centers, voting violations, removal of ballot boxes and armed aggression against an election officer, Haiti’s provisional electoral council (CEP) said in a statement.
All but one of the disqualified candidates were running for a seat the in lower chamber of the Caribbean nation’s legislature, the Chamber of Deputies. One candidate, who had previously served as a deputy, was running for the Senate.
Four of the accused are members of President Michel Martelly’s PHTK party.
The candidates could face prison sentences of six months to five years, fines of up to 100,000 gourdes (around $1,940) and the loss of civil and political rights for at least five years to 10 years max, according to election rules, as cited by the CEP.
The entire Chamber of Deputies and two-thirds of the Senate were up for vote in the elections, which were four-and-a-half years overdue and marked the first in Haiti since Martelly took power in 2011.
According to Haiti’s electoral calendar, the CEP will publish results on Wednesday at which point political candidates and parties will have three days to contest them.
After deliberation by electoral courts, the final results should be published on September 8.
Haiti suffers from chronic instability and continues to struggle to recover from a devastating 2010 earthquake that killed more than 250,000 people and crippled the nation’s infrastructure.
Its parliament was dissolved on January 13, 2015 after lawmakers’ terms were not extended, and the legislative chambers have remained empty for months.
More than 1,800 candidates from 128 registered parties were vying for 139 posts in the two houses.
The polling marked the first of three election days before the end of the year.
The second round of legislative elections is set for October 25, with local elections and the first round of presidential voting also taking place that day.