Torn by Violence, Haiti Looks to Election with Hope

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Elections will be held in Haiti on Tuesday, and many hope the vote will stabilize the country and stop street violence. Corey Flintoff reports from Port-au-Prince about the mood of the country on the eve of the election, and what Haitians might expect from the results.


This is Day to Day. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX CHADWICK, host: And I'm Alex Chadwick.

This is the final day before an election that people in Haiti hope will deliver them from instability and violence. On this last day, campaign rallies and TV commercials are forbidden, schools and government offices are closed; officials are urging everyone to just go out and vote.

NPR's Corey Flintoff reports from Port-au-Prince.

COREY FLINTOFF, reporting: Posters for the presidential and legislative candidates, that seemed to have wallpapered the city, are now the only form of campaigning that's officially allowed. At a weekend rally for presidential candidate Charles Baker, voter Alex Cadishon(ph) said that for him, the most important quality in a candidate is integrity.

Mr. ALEX CADISHON (Haitian Voter): (Through Translator) Because we've experienced many people and we've been fooled by many of them, and the last one was Aristide who started well and then changed. Things got bad.

FLINTOFF: Recent polling has shows Cadishon's candidate trailing former President Renee Praval, who is widely regarded as a protégé of President Jean Bertrand Aristide, and the focus of a rebellion by former soldiers and armed gangs. Cadishon says his party isn't expecting a first round win.

This election has been delayed four times, because of organizational problems. And Haitians say many of the candidates have been campaigning so long, they're tongue-tied. After the months of delay, one presidential candidate dropped out and another recently died from lung cancer. Now, the ubiquitous campaign jingles have been removed from the radio, and replaced by public service messages exhorting people to vote.

(Soundbite of public service message)

FLINTOFF: One of the most common get out the vote slogans here in Port-au-Prince is al vote people regret ti devan, Vote now so you don't regret it later. Officials are hoping more than three million registered voters will take that seriously.

Corey Flintoff, NPR News, Haiti.

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