Legislative elections in Haiti that were scheduled for February 28 have been indefinitely postponed due to the devastating earthquake, President Rene Préval said on Wednesday.
“The electoral campaign should have opened tomorrow, and for obvious reasons, that won’t be able to happen,” Préval told Reuters in an interview at his temporary office.
The offices of the Electoral Council collapsed in the January 12 earthquake, members of the U.N. mission working with the commission were killed and election materials were buried under rubble, he said. “For human and technical reasons, it is obvious that the electoral process won’t be able to proceed as we had planned,” he said. “Now we have to discuss with the various parties what will happen, what will be the next plan.”Préval said no new date for the elections had been set. Looking further ahead, Préval said he would not seek to extend his term in office beyond its scheduled conclusion on February 11, 2011. “I will leave office,” he said.
As many as 200,000 people were killed in the magnitude 7.0 quake, which largely destroyed the capital, Port-au-Prince, and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless, injured and in need of help.
Ninety-eight of the 99 seats in the legislature’s Chamber of Deputies were to be at stake in the February election, along with one-third of the 30-member Senate. The vote for the remaining lower house seat had been set previously for a later date. Préval said Haiti’s constitution sets the date for elections and does not give the president the power to delay a vote, but he noted that electoral events in Haiti often veer from the constitutionally mandated schedule. (Reuters)27 January 2010