Fraud allegations in the wake of provisional results of the November 28 election in Haiti have triggered a wave of violent protests across the country. There are reports of casualties and the country's airports have been locked down.
Haiti closed its airports on Wednesday amid a wave of deadly protests across the country, a day after provisional results of the first round of the presidential election were greeted with allegations of fraud.
Former first lady Mirlande Manigat won 31.37 percent of the vote, ahead of government technocrat Jude Celestin with 22.48 percent and popular musician Michel "Sweet Mickey" Martelly with 21.84 percent, according to Haiti’s electoral commission.
“There is no surprise with Manigat’s lead - she is an extremely popular and well-known political figure here,” RFI correspondent Amélie Baron reported for FRANCE 24. “The big shock has been the qualification of Jude Celestin for the second round. It did not reflect opinion polls taken before the vote.”
Celestin is a protégé of outgoing President President Preval, who is unpopular among Haitians because of his perceived weak response to January’s earthquake and the subsequent cholera epidemic.
Thousands of Martelly supporters took to the streets in the capital Port-au-Prince and the second city Cap Haitien shortly after the provisional were announced.
“Barricades of burning car tyres blocked access routes to the capital, and sporadic gunfire could be heard throughout the city,” correspondent Amélie Baron reported.
On Wednesday evening, thousands of protesters were blocking streets with burning barricades, shouting slogans in support of Martelly. The headquarters of Preval's ruling INITE (UNITY) party were set ablaze. Officials said at least four people had died in clashes. Local media reported one.
"The people came out to vote for Martelly because Manigat and Celestin are not going to sort anything out," AFP quoted an angry youth as saying. "We will destroy the country until Martelly is made president," he warned.
Preval urges calm
Opinion polls, conducted by an EU observation mission, gave Manigat a clear lead, with Martelly second, ahead of Celestin. There have been widespread accusations of vote rigging from local sources, as well as from international observers on hand for the election.
"Demonstrate, that is your right. But don't attack public buildings, businesses or private property," Preval said on Haiti's national radio, calling for calm in the poor Caribbean nation.
Michel Forst, UN spokesman for Haiti, told FRANCE 24 that while he was “deeply concerned” about the violence, “it should be remembered that the results are provisional and the actual results will not be announced until December 20.”
Forst said that getting the results out by then would be a tough job amid “widespread and substantiated incidents of fraud.”
Thousands of voters were turned away due to confusion over voting lists, while international observers confirmed numerous incidents of ballot stuffing, violence and intimidation.
Haiti's Cholera Epidemic
Date created : 2010-12-08