Haitian elections officials Friday afternoon abruptly canceled Sunday’s planned elections amid escalating protests and violence around the country.

Moments earlier, the officials had halted the distribution of voting materials and began recovery of those that had already gone out.

Elections officials said at a news conference that safety could not be guaranteed for voters or poll workers.

The cancellation is “a victory for all of the democratic sector,” said Jude Célestin, the main opposition candidate in Sunday’s election.

The electoral commission’s about-face came after the international community said it is leaving the door open for Haitians to find a political consensus that could lead to the postponement of Sunday’s partial legislative and presidential runoff.

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