Port-au-Prince: Legislative elections will be repeated across a large chunk of Haiti, where recent polling turned deadly and voter turnout reached only 18 percent, electoral authorities said Thursday.
Haiti`s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) made the announcement at a press briefing at which it had been expected to reveal results from the first-round election.
Instead, officials said winners` names were available on the CEP website, which went down following the announcement. They then left under police escort.
National Police forces had been mobilized amid concern that the CEP`s results announcement could trigger another round of violence, and forces from the MINUSTAH mission of the United Nations were at the ready.
However, in the absence of results, no major incidents were reported in Port-au-Prince or big cities.
The CEP vowed action would be taken against the perpetrators of crime and sporadic violence that killed two people and forced dozens of voting centers to close during the long-delayed August 9 elections, the first voting since 2011 in the poorest country in the Americas.
Electoral adviser Nehemy Joseph said political parties that contributed to the violence would be excluded from the election.
Already, a total of 16 candidates have been disqualified ahead of the October 25 second-round vote over their suspected involvement in the crime and violence.
CEP officials used the press briefing to announce that Haiti`s first-round election will be redone across 25 of the country`s 119 constituencies where less than 70 percent of ballots were sent back to the vote counting center in Port-au-Prince.
In the country`s most populous department, Ouest -- which includes the capital city -- turnout reached only 10 percent. Across all municipalities, voter turnout never exceeded 50 percent, according to the CEP.
Candidates, voters and journalists had waited well into the evening for the first-round results Tuesday, the day the CEP had said it would release qualifying candidates` names.
By Wednesday, some radio stations had broadcast supposed lists of winners, with unofficial leaks widely disseminated across social media.
The entire Chamber of Deputies and two thirds of the Senate were up for vote in the long overdue elections, the first in Haiti since President Michel Martelly took power in 2011.
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.