Clashes between rival political factions left two people dead in Haiti as growing violence and a raging cholera epidemic threatened to derail key post-quake elections.
The victims were shot dead late on Monday in Beaumont, a small town in south-western Haiti, after supporters of leading candidates Jude Celestin and Charles Henri Baker squared off, armed with firearms, rocks and bottles.
Haiti, already ravaged by a catastrophic earthquake in January, is now battling a spiralling cholera epidemic that has killed 1,415 people, among more than 56,000 cases, including 25,000 who required treatment in hospital.
United Nations health officials warned the death toll was likely under-estimated, and that the impoverished nation could see up to 200,000 cholera cases in the next three months and 400,000 over the next year.
“Cholera is virtually everywhere in the country,” said Jon Kim Andrus, deputy director of the Pan American Health Organisation.
Human rights groups led the calls to delay the vote in light of the outbreak of the highly infectious disease.
“Cholera is a game changer in the most fundamental sense. It is an immediate and critical crisis that requires all hands on deck in response,” said Melinda Miles, executive director of the group Let Haiti Live.
“What we can say, definitively, is that… no elections held in the midst of the current exploding cholera crisis can be considered credible.”