Officials postpone vote set for Dec. 27

Haitian authorities on Monday postponed presidential and legislative runoffs set for this weekend, saying they needed to wait for recommendations from a special commission tasked with evaluating the country's widely criticized electoral process.

In a brief statement, Haiti's Provisional Electoral Council said the runoffs scheduled for Dec. 27 were postponed until further notice. They did not provide a new election date. Council spokesman Roudy Stanley Penn said a new date will be announced once a commission created by presidential decree has concluded its work.

Last week, President Michel Martelly announced that a five-member commission would assess Haiti's electoral process ahead of the runoffs that opposition factions have threatened to derail because of suspicions of widespread fraud. It was expected to take three days to conclude its work and make recommendations to the government and the council.

But the review panel has not yet been installed and various opposition factions objected to the commission's members, saying that Martelly didn't seek consensus with the 10 sitting senators and opposition leaders before the evaluation commission's five members were chosen.

The "Group of Eight" alliance led by second-place presidential finisher Jude Celestin said it was meant merely as a "cosmetic solution."

For weeks, the opposition alliance has demanded an independent review of late October elections that it insists were rigged in favor of the government-backed presidential candidate.