Haiti goes to the polls on Sunday to elect a new president, in the midst of a cholera epidemic and with the Caribbean nation still reeling from January’s massive earthquake.
Jude Célestin is the choice of the outgoing president René Préval – but the favourite is the country’s former first lady, Mirlande Manigat, according to opinion polls.
She is already crying foul, accusing the presidential camp of planning to distribute half a million fake ballot papers to try to rig the vote.
4.7 million people are eligible to take part in the presidential and parliamentary election.
The campaign has provided a distraction from the reality of life in the western hemisphere’s poorest nation.
“I have no hope,” said one resident of the capital Port-au-Prince. “These elections have just become a tradition, a habit that’s worth nothing and achieves nothing. Look at all these people, elections do nothing to improve their lives, elections only do something for the candidate; he’s the only one who gains something out of them.”
The UN’s 12,000 soldiers are helping to distribute ballot boxes. The United Nations has again denied that Haiti’s cholera outbreak originated from among its numbers. Meanwhile the World Health Organisation has insisted that the elections will not help spread the disease.
According to latest figures, the epidemic has killed 1,648 people since mid-October.