Following a violent campaign, voting is underway for parliamentary elections in a test of stability for the Caribbean nation. Gavino Garay reports.
Some 1,800 candidates from dozens of parties are running. For the first time in four years, Haitians are voting for a new lower house of parliament and two-thirds of the Senate. Legislative elections in 2011 and 2014 were canceled, and Haiti's parliament dissolved in January, so President Michel Martelly has been ruling by decree. Preliminary results may take as long as ten days but already the vote is marred by sporadic violence. Men armed with rocks and bottles attacked polling stations in the capital, Port-au-Prince, where at least three stations were forced to close, election officials say. A rights groups reported five election-related assassinations in the weeks leading to the vote. U.N. observers are helping oversee the voting process, and the U.N. says a credible and transparent vote is key for Haiti's long-term stability. The runoff is set for Oct. 25 -- the same date as the first round of presidential elections. The vote will also test the national police force, which has taken full control of security from U.N. forces during the election season.